American tech veteran signals to Ministers he is ready to step in at semiconductor plant after its Chinese ownership put under review
An American tech veteran has signalled to Ministers he is ready to step in at a British semiconductor plant after its Chinese ownership was put under review.
Ron Black has written to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng with assurances that he has funding for an alternative offer if the deal is blocked. His backers are understood to have £300million earmarked to buy and grow Newport Wafer Fab, Britain’s biggest chip factory.
It was sold last year to Nexperia, which is a European subsidiary of Shanghai-based Wingtech. Last week, Kwarteng launched a review into the takeover. Under the new National Security and Investment Act, he could thwart the deal.
Looking ahead: Ron Black’s backers are understood to have £300million earmarked to buy and grow Newport Wafer Fab, Britain’s biggest chip factory
Black’s letter is believed to raise concerns about the factory’s new links to China, as well as offering to discuss his plan with officials, The Mail on Sunday understands.
Last night, he described his offer as a ‘white knight’ intervention. Black said that unless the Chinese firm could prove that its ownership poses no danger to UK or allied security, ‘it should be considered a risk and as such, it should not be approved’.
Black is leading a consortium of ten investors with a war chest that he says would turn Newport, which produces vital parts for semiconductors, into a leading microchip plant. He previously ran Imagination Technologies, where he and other directors resigned in protest over an attempted Chinese-led boardroom coup.
Last week, Kwarteng said: ‘There will now be a full assessment under the new National Security and Investment Act. We welcome overseas investment, but it must not threaten Britain’s security.’ The Government has 30 days to investigate the takeover.
Nexperia has rejected claims of security concerns. Company executive Toni Versluijs has told The Mail on Sunday it is a ‘Dutch company with primarily European heritage’.
But Tom Tugenhadt MP, chair of the Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee, has said the Government should reject the takeover to protect Britain’s ‘industrial heartlands’.
Nexperia and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy were asked for comment.