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UK orders review of Welsh graphene firm takeover by Chinese scientist

UK orders review of Welsh graphene firm takeover by Chinese scientist

Kwasi Kwarteng, United Kingdom Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, has reportedly ordered a comprehensive national security review into a Welsh graphene manufacturer’s takeover by a Chinese scholar.

According to reliable sources, Kwarteng, in a rare occurrence, has directed the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate the proposed acquisition of Perpetuus Group by the China-based Taurus International or any other firms linked to Dr. Zhongfu Zhou.

Zhou, who has been enlisted as a chief nanotechnology scientist on the Perpetuus website, supposedly possesses business interests within China and has devoted years working on graphene, the world's lightest and thinnest ‘supermaterial’.

Perpetuus manufactures graphene and carbon nanotubes on three sites located in South Wales. These materials are believed to find extensive applications in various sectors ranging from defense and electronics to medicine and super-strength condoms. The materials are exceptional electrical conductors and can be stronger than steel.

In 2004, researchers at the University of Manchester developed graphene for the first time by peeling off layers of carbon one atom thick using Scotch tape. For their discovery, the researchers were awarded a Nobel Prize. Carbon nanotubes look like a rolled-up sheet of graphene.

Established back in 2013, Perpetuus is a relatively small firm with 14 workers at its primary graphene subsidiary and an annual turnover of only £479,000 in the fiscal year ending March 2020.

The UK government has recently been pressurized to respond to a number of corporate takeovers that may have national security consequences. In July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson requested officials to reconsider a Chinese-owned company's takeover of another Welsh firm, Newport Wafer Fab. Takeover bids for aerospace and defense companies Meggitt and Ultra Electronics are also being reviewed.

According to Ron Mertens, publisher of the industry magazine Graphene-Info, graphene manufacturing is not yet a big business, but it is deemed strategic by the UK government. Mertens went on to say that graphene holds a promising future in industrial as well as military applications.

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Sunil Jha

Sunil Jha has been a part of the content industry for close to two years. Having previously worked as a voice over artist and sportswriter, he now focuses on writing articles for, across a slew of topics, ranging from technology to trade and finance. With a business-oriented educational background, Sunil brings forth the expertise of deep-dive research and a strategic approach in his write ups.