Germany Economics Ministry Blocks Chinese Firm Acquiring chip-equipment manufacturer Aixtron

Germany’s economics ministry has withdrawn clearance for Chinese firm Grand Chip Investment GmbH’s acquisition of German chip-equipment manufacturer, Aixtron. It shows the latest sign of alarm from the German government following a wave of Chinese takeovers. Aixtron’s shares tumbled in response to the news, trading down 9.7% at €5.29 around 1200 GMT.

Germany’s Aixtron said the economy ministry had cancelled the so-called “clearance certificate” it issued last month that paved the way for the 670-million-euro ($730-million) takeover to go ahead. The ministry will now reopen a review of the “proceedings in connection with the takeover offer by Grand Chip Investment,” Aixtron said in a statement, adding that it had been informed of the decision on Friday, October 21.

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Matthias Machnig, state secretary in the economy ministry, was quoted by daily Die Welt as saying that the U-turn came after “the government received previously unknown information related to security,” AFP Reported. The unexpected move by Germany comes at a time of concern over a series of Chinese takeovers in the country, which has prompted German Economy Minister, Sigmar Gabriel to urge Brussels to shield key EU industries from foreign investors.

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Mr. Gabriel was particularly alarmed by appliance giant Midea’s purchase of leading German robotics firm Kuka in August, which fed into fears of high-end intellectual property, technology and know-how departing for China. A spokeswoman for the economy ministry confirmed that approval for the Aixtron deal had been withdrawn pending review, but declined to shed light on the reasons behind the move. If the outcome of the review is negative, the deal could in theory be cancelled altogether, she told reporters in Berlin.