The chipmaker says it is “shocked” by the UK government’s ban on its deal to buy Britain’s largest fab facility.

Nexperia has engaged US law firm Akin Gump to fight the UK’s ban on their purchase of the Newport Wafer Fab. The facility, which is Britain’s largest chip factory, was sold to Nexperia in July 2021 for £63 million ($111.5 million).

Although the company is based in the Netherlands, it became a subsidiary of China’s Wingtech Technology in 2018. It is that Chinese connection that is causing problems.

Grant Shapps, the UK secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, blocked the deal on national security grounds in November 2022. This prompted a harshly worded statement from Nexperia, in which the company said it was “shocked” at Shapps’ decision.

Nexperia fights back

“The UK Government chose not to enter into a meaningful dialogue with Nexperia or even visit the Newport site”, the Nexperia statement reads. “More than 500 employees in Newport also raised their own significant concerns about such a divestment.”

“The Government has chosen not to listen to them and instead taken this decision which puts the livelihoods of them and their families, as well as more than £100 million of taxpayers’ money, completely unnecessarily at risk. Nexperia will now challenge the order and will do everything possible to keep the factory and protect its employees in South Wales.”

This week, the company announced it hired Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld to help overturn the UK ban. Akin Gump is a New York-based law firm with offices in London and Hong Kong. The firm has expertise in the field of export controls and cross-border commerce regulation, especially as it pertains to China.

National security concerns surrounding chip manufacturing have ramped up significantly in recent months as the US and its allies attempt to dampen China’s domestic semiconductor industry and thwart Chinese efforts to obtain chipmaking resources abroad.