Newport Wafer Fab completes multi-million-pound refinancing deal to new fund equipment and plant

Newport Wafer Fab (NWF), the UK’s 200mm compound semiconductor wafer foundry, has completed a multi-million pound refinancing deal, involving a restructure of existing Welsh Government loans and a new asset finance facility from HSBC UK.

The deal includes the early settlement of deferred consideration, the purchase of specialist back-end-of-line equipment to broaden the foundry’s manufacturing capabilities, and a £3m contribution to a new combined heat and power (CHP) plant designed to reduce utility costs by over £1.5m per annum.

Photograph: Newport Wafer Fab.

NWF was acquired by private investors in September 2017 from Germany’s Infineon Technologies AG (which acquired the fab on buying US-based International Rectifier Corp at the beginning of 2015).

NWF is a critical component of CS Connected, the world’s first compound semiconductor cluster. CS Connected, which is supported by investment from the Welsh and UK governments and the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR), brings together compound semiconductor material expertise and large-scale semiconductor wafer manufacturing, combined with academic research, to deliver bespoke solutions to customer using compound semiconductor materials.

NWF provides volume manufacturing services for the cluster and any customers who have developed their own products using silicon and compound semiconductors on silicon. It is said to be pivotal to a number of significant international projects being scrutinised by companies attracted to the one-stop-shop capability of CS Connected.

CS Connected is one of 24 shortlisted projects (and the only one wholly based in Wales) to receive early-stage funding from the ‘Strength in Places’ Fund of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to develop a full-stage business case submission, benefiting all regions of the UK by enabling them to tap into research and innovation capability spread across the country, aiming to yield significant economic impact, high-value job creation and regional growth.

NWF’s CEO Dr Paul James expressed his gratitude to the involved parties for their continuing support that has strengthened the position of NWF and the wider CS Cluster.

“The Welsh Government has invested significantly in establishing Wales as a global centre for advanced compound semiconductor technologies and we were pleased to provide support for Newport Wafer Fab so that they can continue work to attract further commercial investment,” says Ken Skates, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Economy and Transport. “The cluster and its skilled workforce is hugely important to our economy and, with world-leading companies and technologies operating and thriving in the region, I look forward to its continued success and growth in the years ahead,” he adds.

“We are delighted to be supporting a business in growth and one which is helping retain a number of jobs in South Wales,” comments Warren Lewis, head of corporate banking in South Wales at HSBC UK. “The funding from HSBC UK is helping NWF grow its customer base both domestically and internationally and, as a result, is on the path to becoming the largest semiconductor foundry in Europe. We look forward to continuing our support over the coming years,” he adds.

“The Cardiff Capital Region is committed to creating a complete compound semiconductor eco-system in South-East Wales to take advantage of the growing prominence of compound semiconductor technologies,” says councillor Andrew Morgan, leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, and chair of the Cardiff Capital Region’s Regional Cabinet. “We are supporting the establishment of the world’s first compound semiconductor cluster. In turn, this can place this region at the heart of a sector which is developing technology which is playing an increasingly vital role in the way we live,” he adds.

“To achieve our aspiration to create the world’s first compound semiconductor cluster, a robust and sustainable supply chain is critical,” states councillor Debbie Wilcox, leader of Newport City Council, and a member of the Cardiff Capital Region’s Regional Cabinet. “This investment will enable support of this, and in the process deliver the economic and social benefits we aspire to achieve for our local communities here in South-East Wales.”

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