With Acquisition in Doubt, Lattice Appeals to Trump

Article By : Dylan McGrath

Lattice hopes president will approve $1.3 billion acquisition by Chinese firm after CFIUS recommends against it.

SAN FRANCISCO — After a lengthy review, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has informed Lattice Semiconductor Corp. that it will recommend that U.S. President Donald Trump block the proposed $1.3 billion acquisition of Lattice by private equity firm with ties to the Chinese central government.

Lattice (Portland, Ore.) said in a regulatory filing that it as well as its would be buyer, Canyon Bridge Partners, would continue to engage Trump and CFIUS to “explore measures that may resolve any outstanding national security concerns and that could allow the parties to proceed with the transaction.”

Canyon Bridge agreed to buy Lattice for $1.3 billion in cash last November. Despite shareholder approval of the acquisition, the deal came under scrutiny from CFIUS — a multi-agency U.S. government committee that reviews acquisitions for national security implications — amid rising U.S. caution over China’s ambition in the global semiconductor industry.

A group of U.S. lawmakers last year wrote a letter urging Jack Lew, then U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, to block the deal on the grounds that it represented a threat to U.S. leadership of the semiconductor industry.

The CFIUS review dragged on far longer than is typical. Lattice and Canyon Bridge re-filed paperwork with CFIUS on the proposed transaction multiple times in an effort to receive clearance.

Under U.S. law, CFIUS does not comment on its investigations or reasons for its recommendations. Trump has 15 days to either suspend, prohibit or approve the transaction. The Reuters news service reported that a U.S. president has never before gone against the recommendation of CFIUS on a proposed acquisition.

In a regulatory filing last week, Lattice said it remains hopeful that Trump will allow the merger to be consummated “given the benefits of the proposed transaction to Lattice’s stockholders and employees in the United States, and the substantial mitigation measures proposed by the parties.”

 —Dylan McGrath is the editor-in-chief of EE Times.

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