EU plans increased scrutiny of foreign investments


The European Union is planning to introduce co-ordinated scrutiny of foreign investments in a deal that could be agreed by the end of the year.

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said that talks were “moving forward,” according to Reuters.

A deal would see the European Commission investigate foreign investments in a series of critical sectors, including media and technology.

The plan would largely focus on Chinese investment, which has been an area of interest for the governments of the UK, France and Germany.

In July, the UK government released its National Security and Investment White Paper which laid out its plan to increase scrutiny of overseas investments into critical UK industries. Businesses and investors were encouraged to alert the government to any planned deals which could become national security risks.

France and Germany have also looked closely at Chinese investments. In August, the German government blocked a takeover of a machine tool manufacturer, Leifeld Metal Spinning AG, by a Chinese investor.

The Italian government reportedly has concerns about the EU’s plan. The country’s anti-establishment government has sought closer ties with China, and EU-led scrutiny of these deals could cause disruption to that plan.

Michele Geraci, Italy’s Undersecretary of State for Economic Development, told a European Union meeting that Italy had concerns over the planned deal. Mr Geraci disagreed with compulsory information-sharing and suggested that the European Commission should only be able to make proposals, rather than decide whether to approve or reject deals.

There has been increasing concern over Chinese investments in technology and industrial businesses in recent years. The European Commission’s proposal of a joint EU approach to foreign acquisitions and investments is likely to place closer scrutiny on Chinese deals in Europe.

The plan could cause issues for Europe’s technology businesses, which have regularly conducted deals with Chinese investors. British semiconductor businesses Imagination Technologies was sold to a Chinese private equity fund last year. And Skyscanner, the UK-based travel search engine, was sold to Chinese business Ctrip in a £1.4bn deal in 2016.

Austrian Economy Minister Margarete Schramboeck told Reuters that the European Union’s goal is to reach a deal in talks scheduled to be held on November 28.

Algolia Reports

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