Merger loophole plans to strengthen security

Reports suggest that the government will have increased powers over foreign company mergers that raise national security concerns in the UK.

Loopholes that pose espionage or sabotage risks will be susceptible to government intervention, with Whitehall likely to target military product-makers and advanced technology firms.

As part of the increased powers, ministers will now be able to scrutinise takeover companies with a turnover of more than £1 million - down from the current £70 million threshold - with a merger no longer needing to increase a business's share of UK supply to 25 per cent or over.

The consultation will be split into two parts: the dual use and military sector, which relates to businesses who manufacture or design items that are subject to export controls; and companies that are involved in the design of computer chips and quantum technology.

Business secretary Greg Clarke said: "Britain has and always has had a proud record of being open to the world as the foremost advocate of free trade. It is 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. No part of the economy is off limits to foreign investment and the UK will continue to be a vociferous advocate for free trade and a magnet for global talent."

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