Plans for a Chinese company to take over the German semiconductor supplier, Aixtron, have been stalled by the German government. A clearance certificate had already been issued to the Chinese firm, Grand Chip Investment, by the Germany Ministry of Economy. On Monday, though, the government announced that the certificate has been cancelled and a review will be reopened into the takeover. Aixtron issued a statement saying that they had been notified of this delay to the €670 million deal on Friday.
The surprise move by the German Ministry of Economy comes amid growing concern by German economists about the number of Chinese firms that are investing in their country. These include a takeover of the German robotics firm Kuka, which was acquired in August by a large Chinese appliance manufacturer, Midea. Worries about the number of high-tech firms, along with their technological skills and intellectual knowledge, being bought up by China are growing. This has even led the German Minister for the Economy, Sigmar Gabriel, to make a request for the EU to come up with a plan to protect key European businesses from increasing foreign, and particularly, Chinese investment. Sigmar Gabriel has an upcoming trip to attend an Asia-Pacific conference in China and Hong Kong in November but it is not known if the subject of Aixtron will be discussed there.
A spokeswoman for the Economic Ministry spoke to reporters in Berlin but refused to explain the reasons for the German government’s decision about the cancellation of their approval. She did confirm, however, that the takeover offer from Grand Chip Investment was being investigated, during which time the clearance certificate had been withdrawn. She also confirmed that a negative review could mean, in theory, that the deal would be cancelled completely.
An analyst from DZ Bank, Harald Schnitzer, described the Government decision as a ‘bad surprise,’ and investors agreed. Monday’s shock announcement badly affected Aixton’s shares, which fell by almost 8%.