Vishay to acquire Nexperia’s Newport Wafer Fab
There have been many twists and turns in the story of the Newport Wafer Fab, and as we move into the next year another major development for the fab will take place. Vishay Intertechnology has entered into an agreement to acquire the fab from Nexperia.
Vishay will acquire Nexperia’s wafer fabrication facility and operations located in Newport, South Wales, UK for approximately USD 177 million in cash.
The Newport Wafer Fab is an automotive-certified, 200mm semiconductor wafer fab that supplies primarily automotive markets. It is also the largest semiconductor manufacturing site in the UK.
Last year, the UK government ordered Nexperia to divest 86% of the Newport Wafer Fab following a full national security assessment. 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 acquisition by Nexperia was criticised from the very start – with the main criticism that the purchase could give China access to British semiconductor designs.
While Nexperia is a semiconductor manufacturer headquartered in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, it is also a subsidiary of partially Chinese state-backed Wingtech Technology – which was the root of the criticism.
“Under new leadership in early 2023, Vishay set an ambitious goal of investing approximately USD 1.2 billion in capacity over a three-year period in order to position the company to seize the opportunities created by the megatrends of e-mobility and sustainability needed for a Net Zero economy. While this transaction is supplemental to our capex investment strategy, adding Newport Wafer Fab to our manufacturing footprint will be instrumental to achieving our goal of expanding capacity for our customers and to accelerating our SiC strategy,” says Joel Smejkal, President and CEO of Vishay, in a press release.
Mr. Smejkal continues to say that Vishay's goal is to safeguard the positions of employees and to invest the necessary capital to set up production for its SiC Trench MOSFETs and diodes.
Toni Versluijs, Country Manager, Nexperia UK, says in the press release that the company would have preferred to continue the long-term strategy it implemented when it acquired the investment-starved fab back in 2021 and provided for massive investments in equipment and personnel.
“However, these investment plans have been cut short by the unexpected and wrongful divestment order made by the UK Government in November 2022. The UK Government’s order, in combination with a weakness in the global semiconductor market, recently led us to announce the intention to reduce the number of employees at the site by at least 100. The site needs clarity about its future to avoid further losses, and today’s announcement provides this. Of all options, this agreement with Vishay is the most viable one to secure the future of the site as Vishay – like Nexperia – has a solid customer base for the fab’s capabilities,” Versluijs continues.
The closing of Newport wafer fab transaction is still subject to a review from the UK government, the purchase rights of a third party, and customary closing conditions. However, the parties still expect to close the transaction during the first quarter of 2024.