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Chinese-owned firm acquires UK’s largest semiconductor manufacturer

Guardian Technology 05 Jul 2021 06:13

The UK’s largest producer of semiconductors has been acquired by the Chinese-owned manufacturer Nexperia, prompting a senior Tory MP to call for the government to review the sale to a foreign owner during an increasingly severe global shortage of computer chips.

Nexperia, a Dutch firm owned by China’s Wingtech, said on Monday that it had taken full control of Newport Wafer Fab (NWF), the UK’s largest producer of silicon chips, which are vital in products from TVs and mobile phones to cars and games consoles.

Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling and the chair of the foreign affairs select committee, told CNBC on Monday that he would be very surprised if the deal was not being reviewed under the National Security and Investment Act, new legislation brought in to protect key national assets from foreign takeover.

“The semiconductor industry sector falls under the scope of the legislation, the very purpose of which is to protect the nation’s technology companies from foreign takeovers when there is a material risk to economic and national security,” he said.

Nexperia, which also has manufacturing operations in Stockport and Hamburg, said that the deal would help it to keep pace with global semiconductor demand.

The value of the deal was not disclosed but has been estimated at £63m, according to CNBC. Paul James, the operations director at NWF, said that the deal will secure vital investment for the business.

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NexperiaNewport Wafer Fabsilicon chipsTom Tugendhatforeign affairs select committee