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Alex Brandon / AP

President Trump is about to get his first big M&A test, and it has nothing to do with AT&T-Time Warner.

Oregon-based Lattice Semiconductor today said that it will ask Trump to directly approve its proposed $1.3 billion takeover by China-backed private equity firm Canyon Bridge, after receiving indications that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) will recommend the deal be either suspended or prohibited.

Timeline: The President has 15 calendar days to side with CFIUS or Lattice. The final decision is his alone.

  • At issue: Critics argue that the deal poses national security concerns, as Lattice's "field programmable gate array" technology could theoretically be used by China's military. Lattice currently does not currently sell military-grade chips, but it once did and its rivals now do. Canyon Bridge is based in Silicon Valley, but appears to be primarily funded by a Chinese limited partner tied to the country's government. Lattice argues that the national security concerns are fiction.
  • Kind of crazy: The merger agreement does not include a reverse termination fee in connection to CFIUS approval failure, even though such a thing was always the deal's greatest risk.
  • Context: CFIUS was widely expected to become more stringent under Trump, particularly based on a January memo that suggested the implementation of a reciprocity test. This is particularly true in matters that involve national security and China (a country whose incoming deals now dominate CFIUS, after having been a relative nonfactor for most of its existence).

Go deeper

New Zealand aims to create smoke-free generation with tobacco ban

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a December news conference in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand officials announced Thursday legislative plans to outlaw smoking by making it illegal to sell or supply tobacco products to the next generation as part of a lifetime ban.

Why it matters: "People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco," Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said in a statement announcing the proposed law, part of the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan.

FDA approves AstraZeneca COVID drug for people with immune problems

Photo: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for an AstraZeneca COVID-19 antibody drug for people with compromised immune systems.

Why it matters: The drug, Evusheld, is the first antibody therapy authorized in the U.S. to prevent coronavirus symptoms before virus exposure.

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.