Newport Wafer Fab: Nexperia address takeover in open letter

The Chinese-backed owners of a Newport based microchip manufacturer have addressed concerns following their takeover, in an open letter published in the South Wales Argus.

Publishing their letter in Friday’s edition of the Argus (August 6), senior figures from Nexperia addressed their message to “readers in and around Newport”.

It comes just weeks after the Dutch firm, which is backed by a Chinese firm Wingtech Technology, completed their takeover of the Duffryn plant.

At the time, the UK Government came under fire for failing to block the sale, which was described as a “national security risk”.

The former leader of the Conservative party, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, was especially critical, saying: “I think the government is in an unholy mess over this.”

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But now, Nexperia board member and general counsel Charles Smit has sought to alleviate fears, writing that “Nexperia is here to stay in Newport”.

Continuing, he said: “Under Nexperia’s leadership, Newport Wafer Fab will be a brilliant place to work for current and future generations to come.”

The Newport plant joins the company’s Wafer Fab site in Manchester, which is believed to employ around 900 people.

It is believed that the firm also runs a similar operation in Hamburg, Germany.

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Open letter in full

The open letter, written by Charles Smit and Drew Nelson of Nexperia, reads: “Dear readers in and around Newport.

“You will have seen over the last few weeks a lot of talk in the media and elsewhere about the future of the Newport Fab and its change in ownership to Nexperia. I am Charles Smit, SVP & general counsel and a board director at Nexperia. On behalf of Nexperia, I want to provide as much clarity and certainty as I can.

“Let me be very clear. Nexperia is here to stay in Newport and this Fab is our priority. Working with the former owners the Fab became an important part of the Nexperia world. We were a long-time customer and made significant investments in NWF in 2019. The business recently faced significant financial constraints and working with the former owners, we were able to find a solution to these financial challenges. Taking over the business has also allowed us to pay off a £17m debt owed to the Welsh Government. These funds can now be reinvested in South Wales.

“Taking care of the finances now means we can take care of the most important part of the business. The people who work in it. As a company that has been operating successfully for over 70 years and has run a very similar and successful fab in Manchester with 900 employees since 1970, we could not have achieved our success without taking care of our people.

“Under Nexperia’s leadership, Newport Wafer Fab will be a brilliant place to work for current and future generations to come. Through Nexperia’s global network, we will bring great opportunities for the Newport economy and do our best to help build prosperity throughout the community. This includes Nexperia’s intention to invest significantly in the Fab to ensure its success for the long term.

“We have also agreed to the spin out of various ongoing Compound Semiconductor activities to a separate new organisation, and Drew Nelson, is providing his commitment below, as we are, that we will work closely together to ensure this is done in a way which gets the best result for South Wales and preserves all the key initiatives of the Compound Semiconductor Cluster.

“We are both very excited about the future of the South Wales semiconductor industry.”

South Wales Argus | Business