A senior Conservative MP has waded into the fight over Britain’s largest semiconductor plant as security fears grow over a controversial takeover.
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis has joined his Conservative counterparts in calling on the government to use the legislation to block the sale of Newport Wafer Fab to a China-backed buyer.
The plant, in south Wales, was bought last year by Wingtech Technology through its European company Nexperia, but the £63m deal is still being reviewed by the government. Newport Wafer Fab produces vital parts for semiconductor manufacturing.
Concern: David Davis has joined his Conservative counterparts in calling on the government to use legislation to block the sale of Newport Wafer Fab
Davis told The Mail on Sunday that the decision facing Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was a “test case” for the National Security and Investment Act, which took effect in January. He said: ‘If they are not able to make a decision, there is something wrong with the legislation.’
Davis said: “Perhaps we need to make an explicit and open statement that companies like this can be sold to NATO powers but cannot be sold beyond those groups.” Normally, we want to be as open as possible about the ownership of private companies. In this case, there is a very strong argument that it has to be a British company or a NATO power. It really is as simple as that.
‘Imagine it backwards. Imagine if the British government said that we were going to buy the biggest chipmaker in China, what would be the probability that they would agree?
Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, also urged the government to intervene, saying: “This is exactly what the National Security and Investment Act is for.”
Nexperia executive Toni Versluijs has rejected the claims of national security concerns.
It also rejected suggestions of “state influence or state ownership” by arguing that Nexperia was a “Dutch company with mainly European heritage”.