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US Moves to Block Chinese Purchase of German Tech Firm Aixtron

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  • US Moves to Block Chinese Purchase of German Tech Firm Aixtron

US President Barack Obama on Friday moved to block a Chinese company’s purchase of German semiconductor equipment maker Aixtron by rejecting the inclusion of Aixtron’s US business in the deal.

The US Treasury Department said a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) chaired by Obama found the risks posed by the deal, which could place sensitive technology with potential military applications in Chinese hands, were too great.

“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,” the Treasury said in a statement.

It said publicly traded Aixtron SE’s expertise in technology key to making advanced compound semiconductors used for LED lighting, lasers and solar cells also has military applications.

Washington does not want to see such technology end up in the hands of the Chinese government-backed company which wants to buy Aixtron, Grand Chip Investment.

The Treasury said Aixtron’s US business is an important contributor to that technology.

In late October, the German government withdrew its initial approval for the 670 million euro ($714 million) takeover after Washington raised security concerns.

Citing German intelligence sources, Handelsblatt daily reported that the United States had expressed fears that China could use Aixtron technology to bolster its nuclear program.

After receiving the information, the German economy ministry said on October 24 that it would reopen its review of the deal.

– Chinese government role cited –

The US Treasury said Friday that Grand Chip is a German company expressly set up for the deal and is “ultimately owned by investors in China, some of whom have Chinese government ownership.”

It added that the deal would be financed by a unit of China IC Industry Investment Fund, a Chinese government-supported industrial investment fund designed to support the country’s integrated circuit industry.

The Treasury statement did not say what military application of the German company’s technology had concerned US officials.

Aixtron’s specialty is a technology for depositing thin layers of atoms on semiconductor wafers that are used in electronic devices and systems that produce, control and convert light. It is popularly used in making solar cells.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang warned against interference, in comments to AFP.

“This acquisition you mentioned is a normal business activity,” he said.

“Since it’s a normal commercial acquisition, it should follow the normal principles and the rules of the market. We hope that there will not be an excessive political interpretation on this acquisition or political interference in it.”

There was no immediate reaction from Aixtron or Grand Chip. In a November 21 US securities filing, the two said they were awaiting the US presidential review and that they “plan to continue to actively engage in further discussions to explore means of resolving the US national security concerns identified by CFIUS.”

If the US rejected the deal, they said there were no assurances that they would be able to proceed with the transaction.

CFIUS reviews foreign investments in US companies, and has both approved and turned down a number of Chinese takeovers in recent years.

In 2005 it blocked China National Offshore Oil Corporation’s bid for Unocal, and in 2008 electronics giant Huawei dropped its offer for US communications company 3Com before an expected rejection by the committee.

In 2014 it approved Lenovo’s purchase of IBM’s computer server unit, but early this year its concerns led to Dutch electronics giant Philips dropping a planned $2.8-billion majority share sale of its Lumileds lighting unit to Beijing-based GO Scale Capital.

Also early this year Chinese tech firm Unisplendour Corp dropped its $3.8 billion offer for 15 percent of US hard disk maker Western Digital before a CFIUS review.

But in August the committee gave its OK for state-owned China National Chemical Corp’s $43 billion takeover of Swiss pesticide and seed giant Syngenta.

The Treasury statement Friday said the CFIUS panel was not opposed to foreign investment and was only focused on national security issues.

“The president’s decision is specific to this transaction and is not a determination with regard to any other foreign direct investment from China or any other country,” it said.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Over 1M Nigerians Have Completed Online Voters Card Pre-Registration – INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) affirmed that over 1 million additional voters have completed their online pre-registration for the ongoing nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) within the last four weeks across the country.

INEC’s national commissioner, and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said this through a statement released in Abuja on Monday.

Of the 1 million new eligible voters, 259,450 people have completed their registration in Osun State and it is currently been followed by Edo state with 98,286 new voters.

These two states were closely followed by Anambra state with 65,014, followed by Bayelsa with 63,250, and later Lagos State with 61,991, this came as Yobe with 1,893, followed by Sokoto State with 2,453, Jigawa 2,593, and Zamfara with 2,769 were some of the least stare registered.

The state’s distribution of the online fresh registration released by INEC in Abuja on Monday showed the weekly update provided by INEC for week four which also reveals that the commission received 1,135,395 applications.

The figure of the total applications received includes those for voter transfer, requests for replacement of Permanent Voter Cards, and update of voter information record, etc.

According to the commission, the distribution of the 1,135,395 total applications by age group showed that 740,063 of them were youths between the ages of 18 to 34 years.

The applications from the middle-aged of between 35 to 49 years old were 278,042; the elderly from 50 to 69 years were 102,578; while the old from 70 years and above were 14,712

The distribution by occupation indicated that artisan constituted 75,877 of the total applications; farming/fishing – 81,096; public servants -25,298; business -230,551; house wives -25,816; students 355,227; civil servants 44,093; traders 97,624; others/not specified 199,813.

Also, the distribution by gender showed that females constituted 492,449 of the received applications while males were 642,946 as well as showed that 12,274 of the applicants indicated to be persons living with disabilities.

Okoye, providing an update on the online pre-registration which started nationwide on June 28, disclosed that the commission, also on Monday, commenced physical registration at its 811 state and local government area offices nationwide.

According to the statement, “As of 7 am today, Monday, July 26, the number of new registrants has risen to 1,006,661. The detailed distribution of the registrants by age, State/FCT, gender, occupation, and disability for week four of the exercise has been uploaded on the commission’s website and social media platforms.

“However, the distribution by age still shows that 740,063 (or 73.5 percent) are young Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 34. As earlier announced by the commission, physical or in-person registration begins today, Monday, July 26 at our 811 state and local government area offices nationwide.

“The exact locations of the designated centers have already been uploaded to our website and social media platforms. For further details, citizens are encouraged to contact our state offices through the dedicated telephone numbers provided in the uploaded publication.

“‘Nigerians who pre-registered online can now complete their registration at those centers based on scheduled appointments. In addition, other Nigerians who prefer to register physically/in person can now do so at those centers.

“Both online pre-registration and physical/in-person registration will continue simultaneously until the suspension of the CVR exercise on June 30, 2022, to enable the commission to clean up the data and compile the voters’ register for the 2023 General Election.”

Okoye appealed to all citizens who wished to register to approach any of INEC’s state or local government area offices nationwide to do so, as the commission entered the next phase of the CVR exercise.

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Oyo State Budgets N330M Monthly To Support Community Policing In LGAs

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Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State

Oyo State Governor, Seye Makinde has said that the state has set aside a monthly budget of N330 million to be spent on security across the 33 local governments in the state.

The governor who disclosed this in Ibadan said each local government in the state is expected to spend N10 million to support the security of lives and property in their domain.

He said part of the measures was the instruction to local government chairmen to involve traditional rulers as well as other voluntary residents in policing their areas.

Each local government is to spend N10 million monthly on this security arrangement.

Makinde explained that the initiative amounts to spending N330 million in the 33 local government areas, besides other efforts the state government had put in place to tighten security.

“We said each local government should set up a security committee, which should include traditional rulers and voluntary people willing to police their areas.

“I encouraged them to budget N10 million to service the committee every month. For the entire state, that’s N330 million per month by all local governments, excluding what we are doing generally at the state level,” the governor told a group on a visit to him during the recent Muslim festival.

“On security, most of the data in the past months shows that things are now improving. The Igangan incident, some days ago, was only falsified by some people who were saying that Fulani herdsmen had invaded Igangan again. The truth is actually about the NCS and smugglers. They know each other.

“Customs officials were accused to have entered Igangan, which is not a border town. But we are working with Federal authorities and they have arrested most of them.

“The gun that was collected is still with us. I said I won’t release it until I get the attention of the Federal authorities.

“In the Constitution of Nigeria, Oyo State is a federating unit. We are not saying Federal agencies should not carry out their operations here. But they must tell us; they must inform us. They may not disclose the details of the operation to us, but we must know about it.

“If we had known about the operation, we would have pre-informed the security detail in the town and those who died could have been alive. The Amotekun Coordinator that died in Igboora would have still been alive today.

“How can you go operating in an unidentified vehicle in a town where the security tactics have been heightened? As they wanted to enter the town, they were confronted because we have heightened security in all of those places.

“So, we will keep appealing to them and to our people that false information won’t help anybody. Nobody will profit politically from the security issues we are faced with. It is our collective responsibility. The people will play their part and the government will play its own part,” Makinde said.

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Security Operatives Arrest Sunday Igboho in Cotonou, Benin Republic

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The security operatives in Cotonou, Benin Republic have arrested Yoruba freedom fighter, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho.

An anonymous source privy to the arrest disclosed on Tuesday morning.

According to the source, Sunday Igboho was arrested in Cotonou while trying to travel to Germany from the West African nation.

President Buhari-led administration is now working with the Benin government to repatriate him to Nigeria.

The source said, “Sunday Igboho has been arrested in Cotonou. He was arrested about an hour ago.

“He was supposed to travel to Germany through Cotonou this night. He wanted to leave Africa through Cotonou. He was arrested by security operatives in Cotonou.

“They are planning to bring him back to Nigeria.”

It would be recalled that the Department of State Services had declared Igboho wanted after its operatives carried out a bloody midnight raid on his residence in the Soka area of Ibadan, Oyo State.

DSS Public Relations Officer, Peter Afunnaya, had advised Igboho to turn himself in to the nearest security.

“Those cheering and eulogizing him may appeal to or advice him to do the needful,” Afunnaya said. “He should surrender himself to the appropriate authorities. He or anyone can never be above the law.”

Pelumi Olajengbesi, one of the lawyers representing Igboho and others arrested in his House, told SaharaReporters he had not confirmed the news of Igboho’s arrest in Cotonou.

“I will contact Yomi Aliu (SAN) to verify the news,” he said.

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