It's been a hot topic throughout 2021 with the acquisition coming under political scrutiny because Nexperia is wholly owned by Chinese company Wingtech, which is itself building a 300mm wafer fab at its base in Shanghai. UK prime minister Boris Johnson spoke about the Newport acquisition and called for it to be investigated.
Newport Wafer Fab had been reconstituted in 2017 as the foundry and development center for a south Wales cluster of compound semiconductor excellence. It appeared to have been making good progress as part of UK strategic technology initiatives.
And then Nexperia went from being a customer and minor shareholder of Newport Wafer Fab to the owner in the 1H21 at a time when the strategic significance of semiconductors was often in the news due to shortages of chip supplies at various manufacturing sites.
But in any specific case the devil is in the detail and Versluijs sat down to take questions about the Nexperia-Newport deal.
We started by asking what was the significance and impact of Nexperia appointing two nominees to the board of directors of Newport Wafer Fab Ltd. back in March 2021.
"We had an agreement made back in 2019 that Nexperia would load Newport Wafer Fab [with orders for chips] but if certain conditions were not fulfilled we would have the right to appoint directors. Those conditions arose. The major one was that it looked as if NWF would not deliver the capacity we had agreed. The second was financial. It looked like NWF might not be able to exist much longer."
Back in January 2021 Newport Wafer Fab was reportedly seeking funds to expand manufacturing capacity (see Newport Wafer Fab seeks funds for capacity expansion).
Next: Multi-year R&D