U.S. President Donald Trump, on Wednesday, blocked a Chinese-backed private equity firm from buying a US-based chipmaker as it poses a threat to national security.
Trump said in an executive order that Lattice and Canyon Bridge “shall take all steps necessary to fully and permanently abandon the proposed transaction” within 30 days.
Canyon Bridge Capital Partners’ planned US$1.3-billion (985.00 million pounds) acquisition of Lattice Semiconductor Corp, was one of the largest attempted by a Chinese-backed firm in the U.S. microchip sector.
It was the first announced deal for the buyout fund, which launched last year with a focus on technology investment.
U.S. regulatory scrutiny grew after Reuters reported in November that Canyon Bridge was funded partly by capital from China’s central government and had indirect links to its space program.
U.S. defense officials subsequently raised concerns about the Lattice acquisition by a firm backed by the Chinese government.
The Portland, Oregon-based company makes chips known as field-programmable gate arrays, which allow companies to put their own software on silicon chips for different uses. It said it no longer sells chips to the U.S. military, unlike its two biggest rivals, Xilinx Inc and Intel Corp’s Altera.
Trump’s decision chimes with the views of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which scrutinizes deals for potential national security threats.
U.S. Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said in a statement that “CFIUS and the President assess that the transaction poses a risk to the national security of the United States that cannot be resolved through mitigation.”
Mnuchin added that the national security risk was related the transfer of intellectual property, the Chinese government’s role in supporting the deal, the importance of semiconductor supply chain integrity to the U.S. government and the U.S. government’s use of Lattice products.
Canyon Bridge said in a statement that it was disappointed in the decision, and called the transaction “an excellent deal for Lattice’s shareholders and its employees.”
Lattice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump’s decision ends a prolonged campaign by Canyon Bridge and Lattice to seal the deal. Canyon Bridge and Lattice had spent more than eight months trying in vain to persuade CFIUS to clear the acquisition.
Both companies said the deal did not pose any security risks and Canyon Bridge had told CFIUS it would double the number of Lattice’s employees in a bid to make the deal more palatable, according to people familiar with the matter.
They declined to be identified because details of the regulatory process are confidential.
The U.S. refusal potentially hurts its ability to acquire other Western semiconductor companies, which would be a big blow to a firm dedicated to technology investments.
Most acquisition targets have U.S. operations, making them subject to a CFIUS review.
Palo Alto, California-based Canyon Bridge said in a statement that it remains focused on other investment opportunities.