Wafer Fab: Jobs saved at UK's largest semiconductor manufacturing site after Nexperia forced to sell

ITV Cymru Wales
It brings to an end a long period of uncertainty for workers at Newport Wafer Fab, with Vishay announcing that it will acquire the site from Nexperia. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Newport Wafer Fab in Newport has been bought by American manufacturing company Vishay for £144m.

It brings to an end a long period of uncertainty for the UK's largest semiconductor manufacturing plant with Vishay announcing that it will acquire the site from Nexperia.

The Chinese company was told by the UK Government back in November last year that it had to sell the factory due to "national security risks."

A review of the transaction was launched under the National Security and Investment Act 2021 - with the UK's Business Secretary issuing a Final Order Notice.

Vishay Intertechnology issued a statement this afternoon saying it had reached an agreement to acquire Nexperia's wafer fabrication facility in Newport which supplies primarily the automotive markets.

Vishay's President and CEO says his team are looking forward to working with employees to ensure the plant's "long-term growth" and he outlined its plans for the site.

He said: “Adding Newport Wafer Fab to our manufacturing footprint will be instrumental to achieving our goal of expanding capacity for our customers and to accelerating our SiC strategy,”

“By agreeing to acquire Newport Wafer Fab, our goal is to safeguard the positions of the highly skilled and dedicated employees and to invest the necessary capital to set up production for our SiC Trench MOSFETs and diodes.

"With its solid balance sheet and ample liquidity, Vishay will immediately bring stability and its reliable cash flow generation to ensure the facility becomes a fully operational and profitable fab”.

The company intends 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.

Nexperia's UK's Country Manager, Toni Versluijs, Country Manager, admitted the company would have "preferred" to continue its long-term strategy.

But said: "These investment plans have been cut short by the unexpected and wrongful divestment order made by the UK Government in November 2022.

"The UK Government’s order, in combination with a weakness in the global semiconductor market, recently led us to announce the intention to reduce the number of employees at the site by at least 100.

Mr Versluijs thinks it's important for the site to have clarity about its future to avoid further losses and he believes today's announcement will provide this.

He added: "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.

"For the site, Vishay’s commitment to further make the Newport Wafer Fab a success story is encouraging. Nexperia’s position with regards to the UK Government’s order remains unchanged.”

Welsh Economy Minister Vaughan Gething says the takeover by Vishay is a "great example of a Welsh economic strength with truly global reach attracting major global investment".

He said: “Global demand for semiconductors is set to explode in the coming years and Newport is perfectly placed to turn that growth into more long-term, quality careers. 

The minister confirmed yesterday that the Welsh Government is prepared to work with the UK Government to establish an Investment Zone in South East Wales.

He said Vishay's investment was "good news" for the workforce., adding; “This should end a period of uncertainty and we look forward to seeing the UK Government commit to supporting the Newport site in line with the UK Semiconductor Strategy."

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