Interesting thread on this here. Allegedly what appear to be a very ordinary fab was actually doing some cool stuff.
The UK's secretary of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has ordered that the Chinese owner of the Newport Wafer Fab sell off its interest in the facility on grounds of national security. Secretary Grant Shapps on Wednesday published an order [PDF] in which he explained ownership of the facility represents a …
Seems simple - Government buys the factory for £63m, it runs independently, provides jobs, makes money, pays tax and is a net income stream for the Government.
What's the catch? Does Newport do it's own R&D or is it reliant on external sources for that so if sold out of its umbrella company it will quickly die? Is it crying out for investment or at the top of its game? Is it a small fish in a big pond and is too expensive to run? Whilst the Sky(?) twitter report linked above was nice and flowery it wasn't really pitched at an audience who were expected to understand the world of fabs, chip R&D and long term macro economics. Standing under an HF pipe to take a picture shows some courage (or lack of knowledge) however well labelled and pretty it looked!
Perhaps we need more background digging into to this story to be able to make a serious judgement about it. My feeling is they produce specialised silicon for the UK military and the Government are scared about that.
They do GaN (Gallium Nitride) transistors, which are a Big Thing in power electronics as they can yield very high efficiency power supplies among other things.
They also do compound silicon products and photonics and a part of an industry / academic consortium.
Why would _any_ government agency be making money? The job of a government is to provide services which private capital markets are not suitable for, precisely because private capital markets are in the business of making money. You have plans to require emergency services turn a profit?
Personally I no longer go "WTF ?" when I read about UK Govermins meddling in technology business.
Oh wouldn't they all (politicians) love UK to be the world's IT star............
One minute we are at war with China 'cos America says so. The we are flogging IT tech to China, then changing our mind.
The bset bit about this whole story is that the company concerned has attempted to engage the Govermins in dialogue, as were the Chinese, but our head pol IT ician preferred to go look at a already burned out firework....................
Ahem..........Soz folks, once thought these muppets actually knew what theywere doing..........But I was only 6 at the time..