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Chinese Chip Software Maker Behind Mystery Buyer UK Blocked

Daniel Nenni

Staff member
  • A Shanghai firm is behind the failed attempt to buy Pulsic
  • UK is clamping down on China’s presence in sensitive sectors

A two-year-old Shanghai-based developer of chip design software was behind an attempt to buy a British firm that regulators blocked with little explanation, the latest example of Britain’s increasing hostility toward Chinese investment.

Super Orange HK Holding Ltd. was blocked from buying Bristol-based chip design software provider Pulsic Ltd., the British Business Secretary announced in a brief statement Wednesday. But that firm is in reality controlled by little-known Shanghai UniVista Industrial Software Group, according to Hong Kong public filings and Chinese corporate data. The Shanghai firm is backed by the National Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund -- the powerful $50 billion state-backed vehicle known within the industry as the “Big Fund.”

It’s unclear what roles Super Orange’s controlling shareholders played in the takeover attempt. Pulsic’s would-be acquirer was founded in Hong Kong in August last year by Nanjing Puxin Software, according to local filings. That firm is in turn wholly owned by UniVista, according to Chinese corporate database Tianyancha.

UniVista was incorporated only in 2020 and describes itself as a provider of Electronic Design Automation tools to the chip industry, or software kits vital to the design of semiconductors. Its No. 2 owner was the Big Fund, which typically bankrolls promising startups in their initial stages, according to Tianyancha.

Little is known about Puxin, the UniVista subsidiary that directly controls Super Orange. The office number listed in Puxin’s legal documents didn’t exist when Bloomberg News visited the Nanjing campus listed on Thursday. Several employees at the business park said the address didn’t conform with the usual format within the location.