Ministers to gain power to halt takeovers by 'hostile actors'

The government has formally announced plans to upgrade its powers to probe hostile company takeovers in the interests of national security.
Under the new proposals, business ministers will have the power to call in investments from so-called "hostile actors".
A day after Sky news revealed details of an imminent announcement, Business Secretary Greg Clark said the aim of was to ensure safeguards were in place while maintaining a pro-business economy.The minister said the National Security and Investment White Paper addressed the risks that can arise from hostile parties gaining control over businesses that have national security implications.Mr Clark said: "Britain is recognised the world over as one of the best places to do business, attracting investment that benefits communities and workers across the country."To retain this hard-won reputation, our merger and takeovers rules need to be responsive to technological, economic and national security changes."These proposals will ensure we have the appropriate safeguards to protect our national security whilst ensuring our economy remains unashamedly pro-business and open to high levels of foreign investment in the future."
Questions have been raised by opposition parties and trade unions as to whether the government's new powers would be adequate to safeguard critical British industries from hostile takeover.Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said: "The current takeover regime is not fit for purpose and all we get from this chaotic Tory government is more consultations when the country desperately needs a proper industrial strategy."These proposals fail to protect workers or their pensions."Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: "The penny seems to have finally dropped on the need for government to strengthen the UK's takeover laws on national security grounds.
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"Whether ministers' proposals go far enough is doubtful."The additional powers being proposed, while welcome, are limited to takeovers of British companies from overseas corporations. This would not have stopped UK-based Melrose's hostile takeover of GKN, even though it was kicked over the line by US-based hedge funds looking for a quick profit."
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