President Trump has blocked the $1.3 billion sale of Lattice Semiconductor to a Chinese-backed private equity firm, a rare move that may signal the administration will take a hard line on China’s dealmaking.
Lattice had hoped to convince Trump of the benefits of the transaction to shareholders and employees, including a pledge to double its American workforce to 700 people from 350. But the president followed the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which had raised national security concerns over the sale to Canyon Bridge Capital Partners.
The deal is only the fourth transaction ever blocked by a U.S. president under the CFIUS statute.
“CFIUS and the President assess that the transaction poses a risk to the national security of the United States that cannot be resolved through mitigation,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a news release.
He cited 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 U.S. government, and the use of Lattice products by the U.S. government.
Portland, Ore.-based Lattice makes chips known as field-programmable gate arrays that allow companies to put their own software on silicon chips for different uses. It announced the Canyon Bridge deal in November amid a recent surge in Chinese deal-making in the United States as cash-rich companies look overseas to diversify and spread their wealth.
Last year, Chinese investment reached $46 billion, a threefold increase from 2015, according to the research firm Rhodium Group.
According to The New York Times, Trump’s decision to block the deal could foretell trouble for other Chinese deals under review by CFIUS, a multi-agency group that examines takeovers of American companies by foreign buyers. Deals pending before the committee include the proposed purchase of MoneyGram International by an affiliate of the Alibaba Group.
“I imagine some cases will take it as a negative sign and will voluntarily abandon their deals and walk away,” Shawn Cooley, an attorney specializing in foreign investment at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP told TheStreet.