UK aims to tighten takeover rules | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 17.10.2017
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Business

UK aims to tighten takeover rules

The British government has unveiled proposals that would allow it to have a greater say in future mergers and acquisitions which spark security concerns. But London pledged the UK would remain committed to free trade.

The British government emphasized Tuesday it wanted greater control over deals in the military and technology sectors as London tried to prevent homegrown companies in sensitive industries from falling into foreign hands.

It announced a series of proposals that, if implemented, would permit it to intervene in mergers that raise national security concerns. The move marked a shift for a country, which had traditionally been one of the most open to foreign buyout deals.

The proposals include lowering the turnover threshold at which the government can scrutinize deals to companies with annual revenues of at least 1 million pounds ($1.3 million, 1.1 billion euros), compared with the current threshold of 70 million pounds.

Calming down investors

The changes would apply to firms in the military sector and those involved in the design of computer chips and quantum technology.

The world's fifth-largest economy is trying to balance the need to remain open for foreign investment after the Brexit vote while upholding an earlier government pledge to intervene when big foreign investments concern critical assets.

British Energy Secretary Greg Clark said Tuesday his country would remain the foremost advocate of free trade.

"But it's right that every so often the government reviews its mergers regime to close loopholes where they arise, and this is what these proposals do in the area of national security."

hg/jd (Reuters, AFP)

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