WASHINGTON An interagency oversight panel concerned about industrial espionage is reportedly investigating IBM Corp.'s proposed sale of its PC operations to China's Lenovo Group Ltd.
According to reports by Bloomberg and Tuesday's (Jan. 25) edition of the Washington Post, the interagency Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States is worried that IBM manufacturing facilities in North Carolina could be used by Chinese owners as a base for spying.
IBM agreed in December to sell its PC business to Lenovo, China's largest computer makers.
U.S. officials are reportedly concerned that the sale would place Chinese operators close to other IBM operations in North Carolina.
The interagency group must decide soon whether to investigate the sale. It could either block the deal or force changes in how the deal is structured.
The Bush administration has previously indicated that national security considerations would have a higher priority in future mergers involving U.S. high-tech companies and foreign buyers.
In 2001, it forced changes in the Dutch equipment maker ASM Lithography's acquisition of Silicon Valley Group Inc. ASML agreed to sell SVG's Tinsley Laboratories optical polishing unit as a condition of U.S. approval of the deal.