Alternative bid for Newport Wafer Fab being prepared

Ron Black, a former CEO of Imagination Technologies is reported to be developing a deal to take control of Newport Wafer Fab.

Newport Wafer Fab has been acquired by analog, power and discretes chipmaker Nexperia NV (Nijmegen, The Netherlands), owned by Wingtech of Shanghai, China.

Concerns were raised when it was realised that the wafer fab as the UK’s largest and most up to date and that shortages of semiconductors had hit numerous industries in the UK including automotive. Wingtech is reportedly building a 300mm wafer fab in China with state funds to install processes obtained from Newport.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has said the deal must be investigated by the National Security Advisor Sir Stephen Lovegrove. Potentially the deal could be vetoed under the National Security and Investment Act.

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  • Imagination’s senior executives quit over potential Chinese coup
  • Ownership worries stoke cold war with China

If the UK government intervenes Black is part of a consortium of private equity firms and banks ready to take back ownership of the Newport Wafer Fab from Chinese-back ownership, according to a Daily Telegraph report.

Ron Black resigned from his position as CEO of Imagination Technologies in April 2020, when China Reform Holdings tried to nominate four directors to the company. 

Nexperia took control of Newport Wafer Fab after it exercised the right to appoint directors to its supplier when it failed to meet certain supply contract conditions. It has also repaid current UK government development grants.

It has denied connections with the Chinese government, “We’re not owned by the Chinese state, the Chinese state is not involved in Wingtech,” Charles Smit, board member and general counsel at Nexperia, told the BBC last week.