Tuesday 23 January 2018

Germany orders review of Chinese takeover of Aixtron

Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s Economy Minister. Photo: AP
Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s Economy Minister. Photo: AP

Elisabeth Behrmann

The German government has blocked a Chinese takeover of semiconductor equipment supplier Aixtron, after performing a U-turn on previously awarded clearance.

The economy ministry has reopened a review of a takeover by China's Grand Chip Investment and has withdrawn a so-called clearance certificate.

It was originally issued on September 8 for Fujian Grand Chip Investment Fund, an indirect shareholder of Grand Chip.

Grand Chip agreed in May to buy Aixtron in a deal valued at €670m. The bid may have helped the company access the Chinese market and develop its product portfolio, after losing its largest customer last year.

Grand Chip had promised to support Aixtron's strategy and keep its headquarters location and chief executive officer in place. Aixtron didn't specify a reason for the decision in its statement.

Germany is seeking tighter control over foreign investment in European companies, in a sign of a growing protectionist reaction to China's appetite for overseas acquisitions.

Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel reopened the scrutiny of the deal.

The move follows calls by Gabriel, who is also Chancellor Angela Merkel's deputy, for fresh European Union measures to give national governments more powers to block or impose conditions on shareholdings of non-EU companies. While Merkel hasn't publicly backed her vice chancellor's push, Gabriel's proposal reflects a growing backlash within Merkel's government over unfettered Chinese investment in Europe's biggest economy following the purchase of robot maker Kuka. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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