UK delays decision on Newport Wafer Fab amid ownership negotiations

UK delays decision on Newport Wafer Fab amid ownership negotiations

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The UK government has agreed a voluntary period with Nexperia to assess its acquisition of Newport Wafer Fab on grounds of national security.

The acquisition was ‘called in’ for a full national security assessment on 25 May by the then Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwateng. The National Security and Investment (NSI) Act started in January 2022 and gives the government powers to scrutinise and potentially intervene in acquisitions of control over entities and assets in or linked to the UK that may pose national security risks.

On 6 July, Kwateng extended the assessment period for the deal by an additional 45 working days. A decision was due last week from Jacob Rees-Mogg, the current Secretary of State. The department says it has now agreed a voluntary period with Nexperia to assess the acquisition in more detail.

A hint as to a possible resolution comes from a statement that the department “is unable to comment on the details of businesses’ commercial transactions.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on the decision-making process behind individual assessments, but our National Security regime ensures any deal taking place does not adversely impact on the UK’s national security.”

One proposal has been for Nexperia, which is a subsidiary of Wingtech Technology in China, to divest the fab to a UK-owned consortium. One consortium suggested for the deal is led by Drew Nelson with support from Headlight Technology Partners. Nelson was previously CEO of Welsh compound semiconductor specialist IQE.  

Another is to split the plant into a commercial fab for silicon power devices owned by Nexperia and a compound semiconductor fab owned and run by the consortium. However Neperia is setting up university liaison projects across Europe which will be led from Newport.

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