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Lords Economic Affairs Committee ask Vince Cable for more information on foreign take overs and the public interest


Following its evidence session with Business Secretary Vince Cable on 8 July, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee has written to Dr Cable asking him for further details on plans to strengthen the public interest test to protect British firms from foreign takeover bids.

Following his session with the Committee, Dr Cable gave an interview to the Sunday Times on the 13 July where he suggested the Government's powers to intervene in a bid could be extended to cover takeovers of companies that own critical infrastructure and firms that receive public funding for scientific research and development. He also suggested foreign bidders might be forced to make legally binding commitments under pain of tough financial penalties. 

In his evidence to the Committee, Dr Cable doubted that the Government's powers to intervene in takeovers could be extended in a way that would be compatible with UK and European law. Given that his position on that issue appears to have changed, the Committee hope to get more information from him on how such a change could be legislated for and how a new public interest test would operate.

Commenting Lord Hollick, Chairman of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, said:

"In our evidence session with Vince Cable he was reluctant to suggest that the existing public interest test could be strengthened in any meaningful way. However, since then he has indicated in the media that the Government's powers to intervene in takeovers could be extended. 

“We have written to Vince Cable to ask him to clarify his position on this issue and very much hope he is now in a position to explain to the Committee what he and the government can do to offer important UK companies appropriate protection from foreign takeovers.”

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