Aixtron considers partial sell-off after Chinese deal blocked

Fri Dec 9, 2016 8:49am EST
 
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By Maria Sheahan

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German semiconductor chipmaking machinery company Aixtron AIXGn.DE may sell off part of its business, its chief executive said in an interview published on Friday, opening the door for bidders after a deal with a Chinese company collapsed.

China's Fujian Grand Chip Investment Fund dropped its 670 million-euro ($712 million) bid for Aixtron earlier this week after the United States blocked the deal on security grounds, throwing the German company's future into doubt.

"There are two options: First, we could hope that the markets for our products recover and continue investing high sums in new equipment. But that would come with high development and ramp-up costs, and risks," Martin Goetzeler told German daily Handelsblatt.

"Or Aixtron could shrink, divest technologies and continue with a specialized offering," he said.

Aixtron makes devices which produce crystalline layers from gallium nitride that are used as semiconductors in weapons systems.

Its technology is being used to upgrade U.S. and foreign-owned Patriot missile defense systems and the U.S. Treasury said the deal had been blocked due to national security risks.

China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) criticized the United States on Friday for thwarting the deal. "The U.S., in the name of national security, frequently departs from market and commercial principles to interfere with normal business activity," an MOFCOM spokesman said.

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The logo of Aixtron SE is pictured on the roof of the German chip equipment maker's headquarters in Herzogenrath near the western German city of Aachen, October 25, 2016. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay