The sale of a German company is on the agenda again – again it should go to China. Only a few days after the debate about the Port of Hamburg, experts again warn against selling too much industry abroad. Again, the federal government is inclined to approve the sale.

The Dortmund semiconductor manufacturer Elmos is to be sold. The Swedish company Silex Microsystems offers itself as the new owner. That in turn is firmly in the hands of the Chinese group Beijing Sai Microelectronics. On the homepage of the Beijing parent company, the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is being celebrated as a major event, and people are looking forward to Xi Jinping’s third term in office. “Long live the Chinese Communist Party!” It says.

“No outflow of know-how”

It is this government-related company that the Dortmund company wants to incorporate – apparently with the blessing of the federal government. As the “Handelsblatt” reports, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution advised against an approval and pointed out the danger of increasing dependency on China, but it is said that “the federal government is resisting the advice” and “the takeover is likely to be allowed”.

The deal is currently with the Federal Ministry of Economics for final approval – there is still a chance that the takeover will burst. A final decision can be expected in the coming weeks. At the moment, however, it looks like there will be approval here as well. Because: “In the case of Elmos, there should be agreement between the Federal Chancellery and the Federal Ministry of Economics,” it says.

The reason for the positive attitude can be found in the products that Elmos manufactures. The large semiconductors are not considered future technology, so one does not see any “outflow of know-how” on the part of the authorities.

“A sale would be fatal”

In political Berlin, people see things differently. It seems that it is less about the sale of know-how and more about a further step in dependencies, which had already been warned about in the course of the discussion about the Hamburg port terminal in Tollerort.

The CDU politician Christoph de Vries warns on Twitter: “It’s just madness and a sell-out of German interests.” Marcus Faber from the FDP takes a similar view and writes: “The sale of the port terminal to the People’s Republic of China is wrong, as is the sale of the semiconductor manufacturer Elmos. Let’s listen when our intelligence services warn!” Philipp Türmer from the Jusos agrees: “Becoming dependent on Xi Jinping’s China would be fatal and must be prevented.”

A look at the coalition agreement also raises questions in this regard. It says: “Together with social partners and local actors, we are building regional transformation and qualification clusters. We want to make Germany a global location for the semiconductor industry. To this end, the German semiconductor industry should also be given sufficient financial support along the entire value chain in order to promote this key technology in Europe secure, strengthen and expand in a future-proof manner.”

Elmos published details about the sale to Silex in December 2021. The company intends to sell its wafer production facility in Dortmund for a net purchase price of EUR 77.5 million and ask for an additional EUR 7 million for the work in progress. If approved by the authorities, the total selling price would be around EUR 85 million. The sale would be accompanied by a delivery agreement until “at least 2027”.