The UK has launched a Phase 2 investigation into China’s planned takeover of Perpetuus, a Welsh graphene company. The proposed acquisition came from Chinese company Shanghai Kington Technologies, Taurus International and a Chinese academic. Graphene has been referred to as “wonder material” which has a number of applications.
These include forming components of solar panels, batteries and computer chips.
While Mr Kwarteng has said the UK is “open for business”, the Business Secretary is concerned about Britain’s “national security” regarding the acquisition.
He said: ”The UK remains firmly open for business, however we have been clear that foreign investment must not threaten our national security.
“I have considered the evidence presented to me and asked the Competition and Markets Authority to undertake an in-depth investigation so we can fully consider the implications of this transaction.”
Mr Kwarteng has now written to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to urge it to carry out an in-depth Phase 2 investigation of the acquisition.
A Phase 1 report was published today, but Mr Kwarteng has stressed that further investigation is needed.
The Global Times, a state-back publication in China, slammed Britain for its “flimsy national security justification”.
It warned: “An expected outcome could be that Chinese investors will then have second thoughts when considering business cooperation with the UK.”
The CMA is now leading the Phase 2 investigation into the national security threat.
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Graphene has high electrical and thermal conductivity and is remarkably strong, 200 times stronger than that of steel in fact.
China reportedly has 10 different research zones in working on the material, involving over 200 companies working directly on the technology, according to editor of Graphene-Info Ron Mertens.
Beijing said back in 2015 that it wanted Britain and China to engage in the “cooperation of giants” after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited facilities in Manchester.
Graphene was first discovered in Manchester back in 2004 by academics from Manchester University.
In 2010, they were awarded the 2010 Nobel prize in physics for their work.
But while it was discovered in Britain, Chinese graphene firms were one of the first to claim application success.
In 2020, China had around a 33.4 percent stake in the global £315million graphene market.