Robotic arm with microchip. Photo: AFP

Beijing-based Naura Microelectronics’ deal to buy US semiconductor manufacturing equipment firm Akrion was approved by the US government, according to a joint statement released by the companies this week.

The move comes amid widespread hostility in Washington towards Chinese investment in US technology firms. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), an interagency body that reviews national security implications of deals, is seen as especially wary of semiconductor deals with Chinese firms.

“As far as we are aware, this is the first Chinese acquisition of a US company to be approved by CFIUS under the Trump administration,” Fang Xue, one of the deal lawyers representing Naura, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Akrion does not itself produce semiconductors, only the equipment used in the manufacturing process. The modest US$15 million deal bodes well for the pending US$580 million acquisition of Xcerra Corp by China’s Unic Capital Management. Xcerra is a US-based semiconductor testing firm which also does not manufacture chips itself.

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