The Government could up its powers in a bid to stop foreign takeovers of UK firms under proposed new legislation.
Currently, the Government only has the right to review deals where the target company makes more than £70m per year and was designed to ensure the Government had a say in the sale of assets such as airports and defence contracts.
New legislation would abolish that threshold and lead to the Government overseeing acquisitions across a much broader range of industries. The new law would result in Government officials reviewing around 50 foreign takeovers a year in the interests of “national security”.
In the past two years, the Government has reviewed just one takeover per year.
Existing laws focus on media plurality, competition and national security. The proposed new law would focus purely on national security, specifically cyber threats.
Business secretary Greg Clark will say on Tuesday that the UK remains an “open economy” but that the nation needs to respond to changes in technology and adapt to new types of threat to national security.