Vince Cable plans to expand foreign interest test for restricting foreign takeovers

Billy Ehrenberg
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Vince Cable is planning to remove "wiggle room" for companies who have promised to preserve facilities and jobs (Source: Getty)

Vince Cable is planning to reinforce government powers to block foreign takeovers of British companies by widening the "national interest test".

The business secretary also aims to remove "wiggle room" for companies who have promised to preserve facilities and jobs.

Currently politicians can step in if national security or economic stability is threatened by the deal, but new rules would allow for intervention over companies that own so-called "critical infrastructure" in the UK, receive public funding for science research and development or are considered world leaders in their sectors.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Cable said he wanted legally enforceable powers to prevent companies reneging on promises to keep plants open and preserve jobs. Cable is also looking at measures to prevent deals where the motive of the buyer is questionable.

US drug-giant Pfizer's failed attempt to buy British company AstraZeneca in May led to suggestions the deal was targeted to reduce Pfizer's tax burden in its home country. Pfizer denied this. Although the Sunday Times reports that the Conservatives are relaxed about Cable's position on promises on jobs, tension is expected as Cable did not involve his coalition partners in deliberations about the national interest rule revision.

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