The acquisition of British graphene maker Perpetuus Advanced Materials could be blocked as Kwarteng intervenes on national security grounds
Acquisition of a Welsh graph maker could be blocked after Kwasi Kwarteng intervened on national security grounds.
The economy minister has ordered an investigation into an attempt to buy Perpetuus Advanced Materials by a company called Taurus International and a Chinese scientist.
Documents released by the government show that the importance of Perpetuus’ technology has called sales into question.
Economy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng has commissioned an investigation to buy Perpetuus Advanced Materials from a company called Taurus International and a Chinese scientist
There are also concerns about the involvement of former Aberystwyth University academic Zhongfu Zhou, whose contract ended last year, in the merger.
It is the second national security intervention that Kwarteng has launched in just a few weeks after joining the sales of Ultra Electronics to Advent International last month.
Advent is trying to buy the manufacturer of submarine hunting equipment for 2.6 billion pounds through its British group Cobham.
The competition and market supervisory authority now has until February to prepare a detailed report on the possible takeover of Perpetuus – and then the foreign minister makes a decision.
Few details about the deal have been released so far.
Taurus International Ltd was registered last year by a real estate agent named Victor Gembala, according to Companies House records.
Zhou was educated in China at the prestigious University of Science & Technology in Beijing, where he received his doctorate in 1998.
After years of research at other institutions – including Oxford – he moved to Aberystwyth in 2010.
He is listed as Perpetuus’ leading nanotechnology specialist.
It’s not clear how much Taurus and Zhou are offering for Perpetuus or how the deal is structured.
However, the company’s strategic importance has been underscored as at least a quarter of a certain type of graph technology and services in the UK comes from Perpetuus.
Stronger than steel and thinner than paper, graphene is widely expected to be an important “super material” of the future.
It consists of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in hexagons – making it the first 2D material.
Graphene can have a wide range of uses, many of which are still being discovered, such as in smartphones and tablets, solar cells, semiconductors, and in inks for hardening materials.
Swansea’s Perpetuus graph was previously used to reinforce tires.
However, the company’s recent reports show that it has developed graphene technology that could be used in batteries.
This could be crucial for the establishment of so-called “gigafactories” in the UK, which make batteries for electric cars and other machines. In the year through March 2020, Perpetuus recorded a loss of nearly £ 1 million.