Who owns the Newport Wafer Fab?

19th April 2024
Harry Fowle

In 2024, the Newport Wafer Fab was at the epicentre of political, economic, and industry discussion as it went through a shift in ownership.

Vishay, a U.S.-based manufacturer of discrete semiconductors and passive electronic components, completed the acquisition of Newport Wafer Fab, the largest semiconductor fabrication facility in the UK, valued at approximately $177 million, following approval from the UK Government in March 2024.

Overview of the acquisition

Newport Wafer Fab, located in South Wales, UK, is notable for its capacity to produce over 30,000 200mm-diameter wafers per month. The facility is not only the UK’s largest semiconductor fab but also plays a critical role in supplying components to the automotive and industrial markets. Vishay's acquisition of this facility from Nexperia, a Netherlands-based semiconductor company, represents a strategic expansion of Vishay’s manufacturing capabilities and a significant move within the global semiconductor industry.

Strategic significance of the acquisition

The acquisition of Newport Wafer Fab aligns with Vishay's strategic vision to enhance its research and development activities, particularly in power compound semiconductors. This move is set to bolster Vishay’s manufacturing excellence, focusing on the decarbonisation and electrification shifts required for a Net Zero economy. Furthermore, Vishay plans to leverage its new capabilities to advance its silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) technology, key components in the rapidly growing markets of e-mobility and sustainable energy solutions.

Implications for the UK semiconductor industry

This acquisition comes at a pivotal time when the UK semiconductor industry is under significant scrutiny due to national security concerns related to foreign ownership. The UK Government’s approval of the acquisition, under the National Security and Investment Act, indicates a delicate balance between encouraging foreign investment and safeguarding critical technological assets. Vishay’s commitment to investing in the facility and maintaining high-skilled jobs in Newport is seen as a positive outcome for the local economy and the UK’s strategic interests in maintaining a competitive edge in high-tech industries.

Future outlook

Vishay's acquisition of Newport Wafer Fab is expected to have a transformative impact on its operational capabilities and strategic positioning within the global semiconductor market. The company plans to invest substantially in upgrading the facility and expanding its production capacities. This strategic move is set to not only enhance Vishay's product offerings but also solidify its position in addressing the growing demands of advanced electronic components driven by megatrends such as e-mobility and sustainability.

In conclusion, Vishay Intertechnology’s acquisition of Newport Wafer Fab marks a significant milestone in the semiconductor industry, signalling strong growth prospects and a commitment to technological innovation. This development is likely to have far-reaching implications for the industry, particularly in the realms of high-tech manufacturing and sustainable technological advancements.

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