Boris Johnson may block a Chinese-owned company from purchasing the UK’s largest producer of semiconductors, a senior government adviser has suggested, as they warned Beijing was on the brink of initiating a new “cold war”.
Tony Abbott, the former prime minister of Australia recruited by Johnson to advise on post-Brexit trade, said he was heartened by a review being launched into the takeover of Welsh microchip manufacturer Newport Wafer Fab by Nexperia and suggested it meant the process could be paused.
Johnson had asked his national security adviser, Sir Stephen Lovegrove, to look into the sale after previously being accused of acquiescing to the deal by not scrutinising it more closely, particularly given the semiconductor industry’s geopolitical prominence.
China has targeted it as a key technology for the future economy, with more than a trillion chips made a year and global shortages causing big delays for carmakers, both in the UK and abroad.
Nexperia, a Dutch firm wholly owned by China’s Wingtech, announced at the start of July it was acquiring Newport Wafer Fab – the UK’s largest producer of silicon chips, which are vital in products from TVs and mobile phones to cars and games consoles.
Abbott said a special committee was created in Australia called the “foreign investment review board” to look at all “significant foreign investments” – and that such a purchase should be ringing alarm bells.
Source: The Guardian