Infineon Technologies AG of Munich, Germany has signed a definitive agreement for the newly founded private company Neptune 6 Ltd to acquire its subsidiary manufacturing site IR Newport Ltd in Newport, Wales, UK. The deal is expected to conclude by the end of September, after which Neptune 6 intends to operate the site under the name Newport Wafer Fab Ltd (NWF Ltd).
Infineon and Neptune 6 have also entered into a two-year supply agreement, aiming for a smooth transition phase.
After acquiring International Rectifier Corp (IR) of El Segundo, CA, USA at the beginning of 2015, Infineon said that the Newport manufacturing site would be either sold or closed in 2017. It now says that it has found a buyer that can better leverage the factory.
“With Neptune 6 we have found the right partner who will secure production and jobs in Newport,” says Jochen Hanebeck, a member of Infineon’s management board operations. “Knowing we would have to part with the Newport site, it was my personal concern to make sure it will be in good hands… the solution we have found now enables us to support our customers even better and more flexibly. The transfer of the fab is a major step in consolidating our front-end manufacturing footprint after the acquisition of International Rectifier,” he adds.
The name Newport Wafer Fab is a silicon foundry brand under which the existing Newport site was operated before acquisition by International Rectifier in 2003. Neptune 6 intends to re-establish the brand to offer advanced silicon and compound semiconductor on foundry services.
“The Newport site, which comes with a skilled workforce of highly reliable and very experienced people, is extremely well placed to contribute to the rapidly emerging international Compound Semiconductor Cluster of South Wales,” reckons Neptune 6 legal director Steve Berry. “The fab is very well equipped to act as a globally competitive chip foundry, and Newport Wafer Fab Ltd. will be highly complementary to the existing semiconductor expertise in the region.” Berry expressed his gratitude to the involved parties, including Infineon, HSBC Bank and the Welsh Government, for facilitating the transaction. “Newport Wafer Fab can provide the employees, the region and the UK with a very bright future in high-volume advanced semiconductor chip manufacturing,” he believes.
“The Welsh Government has been able to support a deal to save the Newport site and the jobs of the people employed there,” states Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure Ken Skates. “The closure of the site in Newport would have been a major setback for the local and national economy and would greatly detract from the substantial investments made to establish Wales as a global centre for advanced compound semiconductor technologies.” The site will form a key part of the Compound Semiconductor Cluster over the coming years, he adds. “The cluster will make a significant contribution to the future of the Welsh economy and support many global companies based here, such as Airbus, GD, Sony and GE,” Skates continues. “The synergies this can deliver will contribute to increased skills levels in the region and will attract further technology businesses to Wales. Highly skilled technology roles, such as these retained in Newport, are of significant value to our economy and vital to ensure Wales capitalizes on the growth of the digital economy.”