The UK's secretary of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has ordered that the Chinese owner of the Newport Wafer Fab sell off its interest in the facility on grounds of national security.
Secretary Grant Shapps on Wednesday published an order [PDF] in which he explained ownership of the facility represents a national security risk as:
i. technology and know-how that could result from a potential reintroduction of compound semiconductor activities at the Newport site, and the potential for those activities to undermine UK capabilities; and ii. the location of the site could facilitate access to technological expertise and know-how in the South Wales Cluster ("the Cluster"), and the links between the site and the Cluster may prevent the Cluster being engaged in future projects relevant to national security.
The Newport Wafer Fab is the UK's largest chipmaking facility. In July 2021 it was sold for £63 million ($111,500,000) to Dutch company Nexperia, which itself became a subsidiary of Chinese outfit Wingtech Technology in 2018.
News of the sale to Nexperia saw then-prime minister Boris Johnson promise to a conduct a national security investigation into the takeover. That probe led to a damning report titled "Sovereignty for sale: follow-up to the acquisition of Newport Wafer Fab" and allegations that the probe ordered by Johnson had amounted to nothing. A full assessment under the National Security and Investment Act was then instigated, with the result that Shapps has now ordered Nexperia to sell at least 86 percent of the Newport facility.
Nexperia has published a statement condemning the decision.