The British authorities will check the agreement on the acquisition of Newport Wafer Fab, which owns the largest company in the kingdom of microchip production, by Chinese contractors. British Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwazi Kwarteng said on Wednesday that London was trying to determine whether the deal would violate the country’s national security interests.
“Today we have an investigation into the acquisition of Newport Wafer Fab by Nexperia, a subsidiary of a Chinese company. A full assessment of the situation will be made in accordance with the National Security and Investment Law. We welcome foreign investment, however. it must not threaten Britain’s national security, “Kwarteng wrote on his Twitter page.
According to the agency, the verification should take 30 days, but if necessary, it can be extended for a period not exceeding 45 days.
Dutch company Nexperia, which was bought by Chinese electronics maker Wingtech in 2019, acquired Newport Wafer Fab in July last year. Shortly before the deal was concluded, there were calls in the British Parliament to block it. The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons, Tom Tugendhat, spoke about the strategic importance of the semiconductor industry and the inadmissibility of transferring production under the control of a Chinese company.
In January, the UK’s National Security and Investment Act, which has been in preparation since 2018, came into force to protect a number of key industries for the UK from foreign influence. The law does not provide clear criteria for when large foreign investments in a key industry can be considered a threat to national security. According to the authors of the law, it gives the authorities “sufficient flexibility to protect the country”, allowing each of the potentially dangerous transactions to be considered individually. At the same time, it is emphasized that “the vast majority of transactions will not require intervention and can be closed quickly.”
The 17 key sectors of the economy under the new rules include energy and civilian nuclear projects, dual-use defense and production, transportation, electronics, space and satellite technologies, artificial intelligence and quantum technologies, advanced robotics and synthetic biology.
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