HANDELSBLATT EXCLUSIVE

U.S. Said to Intervene in Aixtron Deal

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The German government had to rely on U.S. intelligence to learn that some Aixtron products also have potential military applications.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The German government on Friday suddenly reversed its decision to certify the proposed acquisition of Aixtron by the Chinese investor Fujian Grand Chip Investment.
    • U.S. intelligence services presented the German government with evidence that Aixtron technology also had military applications.
    • The German government subsequently blocked the €670 million proposed deal.
  • Audio

    Audio

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The logo of Aixtron SE is pictured on the roof of the German chip equipment maker’s headquarters in Herzogenrath
U.S. intelligence is said to not want Aixtron, a German tech company, to fall into Chinese hands. Source: Reuters

U.S. intelligences services were behind a sudden decision by the German government to block a Chinese investor from acquiring Aixtron, according to Handelsblatt sources in the German intelligence community.

During a meeting at the U.S. embassy in Berlin, U.S. intelligence presented German government representatives with evidence that Aixtron manufacturing technology also has military applications. Washington is concerned that Beijing might use Aixtron equipment to produce electronic chips for its nuclear program.

Founded in 1983, Aixtron makes equipment used to produce complex semiconductors and nanotubes and nanofibers, tiny chip elements that can be also be used in military applications and sophisticated weapons system. The firm, based in Herzogenrath, a town near Aachen in northwest Germany, sells most of its equipment to Asian buyers.

Representatives from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office, the Economics Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Defense Ministry were all present at the meeting at the U.S. embassy, according to German intelligence sources.

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