U.K. to Tighten Takeover Laws to Protect Virus-Fighting Firms

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The U.K. will introduce legislation on Monday to make sure British businesses involved in fighting the coronavirus pandemic aren’t susceptible to hostile foreign takeovers, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said in a statement on Sunday.

Changes to legislation will be proposed in Parliament on Monday. They would allow the government to intervene if a business directly involved in a pandemic response finds itself the target of a takeover, such as a vaccine research company or a personal protective equipment manufacturer.

“The U.K. is open for investment, but not for exploitation,” said Business Secretary Alok Sharma. “These powers will send an important signal to those seeking to take advantage of those struggling as a result of the pandemic that the U.K. government is prepared to act where necessary to protect our national security.”

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Currently, the government can intervene on mergers and takeovers due to public interest considerations including national security, media plurality and financial stability.

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