US chipmaker Vishay has agreed to acquire Newport Wafer Fab for $177m (£144m) after the UK government forced its owner Nexperia to sell the company under national security rules.
Vishay Intertechnology will acquire the 29-acre site in South Wales, which produces 200mm semiconductor wafers, pending a review.
Vishay CEO Joel Smejkal said the aim of the deal is to “safeguard the positions of the highly skilled and dedicated employees” and provide investment to produce its own chip technology.
Nexperia had previously reduced its headcount at the Newport site by 100, which it said was due to the government unwinding its acquisition of the Welsh chip maker and “weakness in the global semiconductor market”.
The government blocked Nexperia’s acquisition of Newport Wafer Fab in November 2022 on national security grounds. Nexperia is headquartered in the Netherlands but is owned by the Chinese company Wingtech.
A final notice issued by the government said the deal could “undermine” UK semiconductor capabilities and could prevent the South Wales tech cluster from becoming involved in “projects relevant to national security”. The decision came 16 months after Nexperia closed the £63m deal and multiple government delays.
Toni Versluijs, country manager at Nexperia UK, said: “The site needs clarity about its future to avoid further losses, and today’s announcement provides this.
“Of all options, this agreement with Vishay is the most viable one to secure the future of the site as Vishay – like Nexperia – has a solid customer base for the fab’s capabilities.”
The Vishay deal is subject to a UK government review and other closing conditions. It is expected to close in the first quarter of 2024.
“For Vishay, acquiring Newport Wafer Fab brings together our capacity expansion plans for our customers in automotive and industrial end markets as well as the UK’s strategic goal of improved supply chain resilience,” added Smejkal.
“In addition to expanding capacity, we intend to collaborate with the Compound Semiconductor Cluster in South Wales and to join with key stakeholders committed to developing the semiconductor industry in the UK including university and community partners in the UK and particularly South Wales.”