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Chinese company ordered to sell wafer fab

The British government forced the Chinese Nexperia company to sell Britain's biggest microchip factory, following a national security assessment.

Nexperia is component supplier for the automotive industry; it provides for example silicon-based ESD protection circuitry for CAN FD nodes (Source: Nexperia)

Reuters reported that Nexperia's purchase of Newport Wafer Fab announced earlier this year is not more desired by the British government. "We welcome foreign trade and investment that supports growth and jobs. But where we identify a risk to national security we will act decisively," Business Minister Grant Shapps said on Twitter.

The government stated that there is a national security risk related to the technology and know-how. Therefore, it ordered to sell at least 86 % of the acquired wafer fab. The location of the site could also facilitate access to technological expertise in the South Wales area and prevent that area being engaged in future projects relevant to national security, the order said.

A couple of days ago, the German government has prohibited the sale of Elmos' semiconductor production facilities in Germany to a Chinese investor after security concerns. Elmos is a provider of CAN system base chips comprising CAN transceivers.

Some years ago, the U.S. Government has forbidden the acquisition of Lattice by a Chinese company. Lattice is a semiconductor manufacturer offering low-power FPGA (field-programmable gate array) and video ASSP (application-specific standard product), 60-GHz mm-wave, and IP products. The company also offers CAN IP modules from Fraunhofer/Cast and implements them as part of the partnership on their semiconductor products.

European governments pay more attention on Chinese technology purchase compared to the past. This includes especially components developed for the automotive industry. Nexperia’s diode technology had been acquired from NXP more than five years ago.

Nexperia headquartered in the Netherlands, said it did not accept the national security concerns. "We are genuinely shocked. The decision is wrong, and we will appeal to overturn this divestment order," said Toni Versluijs, Nexperia's UK manager.


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