£300m plan to prise Newport chip factory away from Chinese firm
A technology executive has vowed to spend up to £300m to acquire a Newport chip factory amid a battle to prise it out of Chinese control.
Ron Black, who ran Imagination Technologies, said a consortium of six companies is ready to step in with a bid for the factory, Newport Wafer Fab, which is Britain’s biggest microchip plant.
He says they are ready to swoop if the UK Government intervenes to block its acquisition by Shanghai-owned company Nexperia.
Though he declined to directly call for ministers to block Nexperia buying the factory, he has said that all technology deals should be strongly considered on national security grounds.
According to Black, the investors’ plans would help transform the south of Wales into a hub for advanced chipmaking with compound semiconductors.
Black told The Telegraph: “What we’re looking to do is to provide an alternative to the current deal if either Nexperia or the Government conclude that an alternative is necessary.”
Last month, Nexperia, which is owned by the Chinese tech business Wingtech, acquired Newport Wafer Fab for £63m after the plant fell into financial difficulty.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a national security review of the deal after MPs accused the UK Government was turning a blind eye to the takeover.
Black said he was working with three electronics companies and three financial investors, which are based in the UK, Europe and the US on a proposal to takeover the plant.
He says the consortium has substantial financial firepower and plans to invest heavily in the plant.
The acquisition could include a bid that would more than return Nexperia’s investment in the company, potentially up to £100m, as well as include a further £200m of spending to expand the plant’s capacity.
Black added that he’s been in touch with “people around economic development in Wales” and that he would welcome government investment as part of any deal.
A review into the takeover is expected to conclude in coming weeks. However, it is believe that the future of the deal is likely to remain uncertain until January. This is when when stronger national security laws are expected to come into force which will allow ministers to block foreign takeovers.