The government has refused to commit to releasing a review into the takeover of the UK’s largest chip plant by a Chinese-owned semiconductor firm.
Boris Johnson announced last week that his national security adviser would probe the takeover of Newport Wafer Fab, after his government initially said there were no grounds to intervene in the sale.
When asked if the results of the probe would be made public, business minister Amanda Solloway said today that “I cannot go into any details and I cannot comment on anything around either commercial transactions or national security assessments”.
“The government has looked closely at this transaction and doesn’t consider it appropriate to intervene at thec urrent time,” she said.
“[The Prime Minister] has asked the national security adviser to review this.”
Nexperia, a Dutch firm owned by China’s Wingtech, last week said it has taken full ownership of Newport Wafer Fab (NWF), which produces chips used in a range of tech products from phones to self-driving cars.
Financial details were not disclosed, but CNBC reported the deal was worth around £63m.
The takeover of the Welsh-based firm quickly prompted national security concerns by MPs across the spectrum.
Johnson said last week at parliament’s Liaison Committee that the government may intervene in the sale through its National Security and Investment legislation.
The legislation will come into place later this year and gives the government more scope for stopping international firms buying British companies or assets on national security grounds.
“Once the act is commenced we’ll be able to scrutinise and if necessary intervene in takeovers of companies, but also purchase of individual assets such as individual property,” Solloway said.
Tory MP and Foreign Affairs Committee chair Tom Tugendhat said it was clear and obvious that Newport Wafer Fab’s sale was a matter of national security as they produce chips that are used in the development of defence radar systems.
“There is a global chip shortage, semiconductors around the world are delaying the production of white goods, delaying the production of cars and indeed delaying the production of military equipment,” he said.
“If that doesn’t put it in the national security bracket then what does?”