Foreign predators snap up £74bn worth of British firms

Since the Prime Minister's promise in July 2016, overseas companies have snared a string of major firms including ARM Holdings, National Grid's gas pipelines business, WS Atkins and Worldpay.

Foreign predators have launched a £74.5billion takeover blitz on British businesses in the past year despite Theresa May’s pledge to protect them, the Mail can reveal.

Since the Prime Minister’s promise in July 2016, an analysis of bids by overseas companies shows they have snared a string of major firms including tech star ARM Holdings, National Grid’s gas pipelines business, engineering firm WS Atkins and, this week, payments firm Worldpay.

Foreign firms are taking advantage of the weak pound, which plunged in value after the EU referendum.

Overseas companies have snared a string of major firms including ARM Holdings, National Grid’s gas pipelines business, engineering firm WS Atkins and this week payments firm Worldpay

Since the Prime Minister's promise in July 2016 to protect British firms, overseas companies have snared ARM Holdings, National Grid's gas pipelines business, WS Atkins and Worldpay

It has heightened concerns over the lax approach to takeovers of successful British brands, with May vowing to put them under closer scrutiny.

But so far ministers have failed to produce a single proposal to tackle the issue.

Last night a Government spokesman insisted takeover rules were still being reviewed but Sir Vince Cable, the former Business Secretary, claimed May’s dithering was leaving UK businesses exposed.

THE BIG TAKEOVERS

  • £24bn Japan’s Softbank snaps up tech firm ARM
  • £13.8bn Foreign consortium buys National Grid gas network
  • £12bn America’s 21st Century Fox bid for Sky
  • £9.3bn US firm Vantiv buys payments pioneer Worldpay
  • £3bn American Blackstone bid for Paysafe
  • £2.1bn Canadian’s SNC-Lavalin offer for engineer WS Atkins

The Liberal Democrat leader said: ‘Of course we should welcome foreign investment. But it is very important takeovers should be properly assessed in the national interest.’

Ministers can only intervene in takeovers on grounds of public interest including national security, financial stability or media plurality.

This year, however, officials have discussed whether rules could be changed to protect a wider range of businesses and leading chief executives have been asked which industries should be protected.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy refused to comment on the proposals but said: ‘Government is actively engaging with businesses and stakeholders to ensure our merger and takeover rules are fit for purpose. 

'We want the UK to be a great place in which to invest and do business.’