Nexperia slams former directors ahead of Newport chip decision
The Chinese-owned company that bought the UK’s biggest semiconductor manufacturer last year has accused its former board members of making “misleading claims” to influence the outcome of a national security review.
This follows Malcolm Penn, a former non-executive director at Newport Wafer Fab, making a series of complaints about Nexperia’s behaviour in the run-up to its sale.
He questioned the accuracy of evidence given by Toni Versluijs, the global player’s UK country manager, when he appeared in front of the Commons’ business select committee last month.
However, in a response to the committee seen by The Times, Nexperia has refuted claims it withheld finance from Newport Wafer Fab in order to weaken its balance sheet and then buy it on the cheap.
Nexperia argued that former directors were inaccurately “portraying the acquisition as a hostile takeover rather than the reality where Newport Wafer Fab was saved from bankruptcy.”
It said: “Put simply, Newport Wafer Fab’s previous owners consistently failed to meet their customers’ requirements, misrepresented the capacity available, exaggerated their future potential and were running out of funds.”
The takeover of Newport Wafer Fab by Nexperia, a Dutch subsidiary company of Wingtech Technology, the Chinese smartphone maker, is being assessed under new national security legislation brought in by the Government.
The takeover attempt was held up under the National Security and Investment Act, which came into force in January.
A decision on the site is due from the Business Secretary – currently Kwasi Kwarteng – on or before 12 September.
This could lead to the £63m acquisition being unwound.
Concern about the UK semiconductor industry has escalated since the pandemic, when supply chain disruption and a soaring demand for electronic goods led to sustained shortages.