Citing national security concerns, President Trump will not allow a private-equity firm backed by Chinese investors to acquire Lattice Semiconductor, a maker of chips used in industrial equipment, data centers, and video devices.
Lattice and Canyon Bridge Capital Partners, a private-equity firm with ties to a fund owned by the Chinese government, agreed on a $1.3 billion acquisition deal last November, but deals involving foreign investors are automatically reviewed by regulators. Bloomberg reported Wednesday that President Trump personally decided to block the deal on the recommendation of a panel of regulators, and the White House issued a statement confirming the decision.
“The national-security risk posed by the transaction relates to, among other things, the potential transfer of intellectual property to the foreign acquirer, the Chinese government’s role in supporting this transaction, the importance of semiconductor supply chain integrity to the United States Government, and the use of Lattice products by the United States Government,” the White House said in a statement.
Lattice, headquartered in downtown Portland’s “Big Pink” office tower, makes field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), which are currently very hot for artificial intelligence and cloud computing applications but have a host of other uses. As the name suggests, FPGAs allow buyers to customize the chip to meet their unique needs once they’ve brought the chips back to the “field,” rather than trying to buy a general-purpose processor that might run too hot or take up too much space for specialized equipment.
“We are obviously disappointed in today’s decision by the President of the United States to forgo what we believe to be an excellent deal for Lattice’s shareholders and its employees by expanding the opportunity to keep jobs in America,” Canyon Bridge said in a statement.
Only four deals have been blocked by the president since 1990, according to Bloomberg. Most deals get rejected at the regulatory committee level, or the dealmakers decide to walk away once they get the sense the deal probably won’t happen, according to the report.