The move would allow the secretary of state to block the proposed sale if it is found to be threatening British interests.
Last September, the proposed sale of the Perpetuus Group to a group led by Chinese company Shanghai Kington Technologies was blocked by Mr Quarten.
The Perpetuus Group is a collection of British companies, some of which have developed a new intellectual property using modern engineering graphene supermaterial. These technologies have a “strategic application,” a statement issued Wednesday by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said.
Mr Quarteng said the next steps in the investigation: “The UK remains firmly open to business, however we were clear that foreign investment should not threaten our national security.
“I have reviewed the evidence presented to me and asked the Office of Competition and Markets to conduct an in-depth investigation so that we can fully consider the implications of this transaction,” the business secretary added.
The investigation is using its powers under the Enterprise Act of 2002 because government intervened before a new law, the National Security and Investment Act, came into force this year.
The Perpetuus website outlines a number of applications for its nanomaterials that are constructed from tiny particles that can help reduce the scale of electronic circuits or improve their performance.
Graphene, one such material, is a key area of Perpetuus ’specializations in sensitive technologies. It is used to create coatings and components that are much more durable or more aerodynamic than those that use other comparable materials. Its application is much in innovative technology from vehicles to aircraft.
According to high-ranking government sources, the deal is considered much more sensitive than the proposed takeover of semiconductor maker Newport Wafer Fab. This is because Perpetuus technologies include more sensitive and new intellectual property.
Newport Wafer Fab sold last year for £ 63m to Dutch-owned Dutch company Nexperia ChinaWingtech’s is also considered. This was confirmed by the statement of the Minister of Business Lord Callanan on April 7, but it was made after Fr. lengthy debate among high-ranking statesmen on the deal.
There are deep disagreements about the role of Chinese investment in the UK and the threats they may pose to national security. Foreign Minister Liz Trass and Mr Quarteng are expected to reduce their dependence on China through sensitive supply chains.
Other figures, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, have expressed concern that national security fears should not outweigh the need to remain an attractive place to invest in the world’s second-largest economy.
Perpetuus and Newport Wafer Fab, the first of which includes the creation of conductive coatings for electronics, and the second, which produces silicon wafers, are case studies that will be used for the government’s semiconductor strategy. It is expected to be published this month by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Whitehall sources said.
It is expected that consideration of the potential sale of Perpetuus will last 24 weeks, but this period may be extended if officials believe that their investigation will take longer.