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 has 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 he would very surprised if the deal is 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.
The business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, has previously said that the government was monitoring the situation closely, “but does not consider it appropriate to intervene at the current time”.
Nexperia, which also has manufacturing operations in Stockport and Hamburg, said that the deal would help it to keep pace with global semiconductor demand.
“Nexperia has ambitious growth plans and adding Newport supports the growing global demand for semiconductors,” said Achim Kempe, the chief operations officer at Nexperia. “The Newport facility has a very skilled operational team and has a crucial role to play to ensure continuity of operations.”
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.
“The acquisition is great news for the staff here in Newport and the wider business community in the region, as Nexperia is providing much-needed investment and stability for the future,” he said. “We are looking forward to becoming part of the global Nexperia team and are keen to keep the current workforce. Additional local resources may be required too.”