Newport Wafer Fab deal called-in for national security assessment
The acquisition of the UK’s UK's biggest chip plant – Newport Wafer Fab – has been called in for a full national security assessment.
The acquisition by Nexperia of Newport Wafer Fab was called-in for a full national security assessment by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng on May 25, 2022.
The government has powers under the National Security and Investment Act 2021 to scrutinise and – if necessary – intervene in qualifying acquisitions on national security grounds. The government has 30 working days, extendable by up to a further 45 working days, to carry out that assessment. That process is now underway, a press release from the UK’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy reads.
The Newport semiconductor production site was first established back in 1982 and was originally named INMOS. Since then the plant has had several owners. The facility was acquired by Hong Kong-based QPL in 1992. Following a management buy-out in 1999, the operation was acquired by US-based International Rectifier in 2002 and subsequently by Infineon in 2015. In September 2017, Infineon sold the fab to Neptune 6 Ltd., which has been operating the site under the name Newport Wafer Fab Ltd. During the summer of 2021, Nexperia announced that it completed a transaction to acquire Newport Wafer Fab (NWF).
Nexperia said in its original announcement that the fab will be renamed Nexperia Newport and will continue to have a strong position in the Welsh ecosystem and technology development. Nexperia also stated that it would secure the current jobs at the Newport site and others across the region.
However, the acquisition has been criticised from the very start, as the purchase could give China access to British semiconductor designs. Nexperia is a semiconductor manufacturer headquartered in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. However, it is also a subsidiary of partially Chinese state-backed Wingtech Technology – which is the root of the criticism. Kwasi Kwarteng stated in a tweet that “We welcome overseas investment, but it must not threaten Britain's national security.”