Britain's top microchip maker to be sold to Chinese-owned tech firm

Now China buys up our top microchip maker: Britain’s biggest producer is to be sold to Chinese-owned technology firm despite security fears

  • Nexperia agreed to buy Newport Wafer Fab in a deal said to be worth £63million
  • The South Wales facility manufactures crucial power components for vehicles
  • Ministers were urged to intervene as Nexperia is owned by China’s Wingtech
  • The Government has powers to review such sales on national security grounds
  • But it said it wouldn’t do so despite increasing concerns over China’s intentions

Britain’s biggest microchip factory is to be sold to a Chinese-owned technology firm despite fears over national security.

Nexperia said it had agreed to buy Newport Wafer Fab in a deal reportedly worth around £63million.

The facility in South Wales manufactures crucial power components for cars. The parts have been in limited supply amid a global shortage of microchips.

Ministers have been urged to intervene because Netherlands-based Nexperia is owned by Chinese electronics company Wingtech, whose shareholders include state-funded investors.

Nexperia said it had agreed to buy Britain’s biggest microchip factory Newport Wafer Fab in a deal reportedly worth around £63million (stock image)

The Government has new powers to review such sales on national security grounds – but said it would not do so despite growing concern over China’s intentions. 

Tom Tugendhat, Tory chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee, urged ministers to review the deal under the National Security and Investment Act.

He warned that the UK was ‘turning a blind eye to Britain’s largest semiconductor foundry falling into the hands of an entity from a country that has a track record of using technology to create geopolitical leverage’.

Chips, which act as the brains of digital devices, are used in everything from cars to washing machines to toothbrushes – but there are not enough to keep up with the increasing demand.

Ministers have been urged to intervene because Nexperia is owned by Chinese electronics company Wingtech, whose shareholders include state-funded investors (stock image)

Analysts have warned the global shortage – which has affected the automotive industry the most – could last until 2023.

It has put a spotlight on the supply chain as a result, with governments increasingly concerned about their reliance on foreign chip manufacturers.

The deal will protect some 400 jobs at the factory – which produces 8,000 wafers, mass-produced sheets of microchips, each week – and help pay off several outstanding debts.

The Welsh Government said it welcomed the takeover which would see it recover its own £18m investment, plus interest. It said: ‘Issues of Chinese ownership are a matter for the UK Government.’

The UK government spokesperson said it did ‘not consider it appropriate to intervene at this time’ but that it would ‘continue to monitor the situation closely’.

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