Sunday 4 September 2016 10:19 am

"No security issues" surrounding billion-pound data centre deal with China

The company run by the billionaire Reuben brothers has denied there are security concerns around a potential sale of a stake in its data centre company Global Switch to Chinese investors.

The former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind has called on the Prime Minister Theresa May to vet the potential multi-billion pound deal over concerns around access to data.

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Global Switch, owned by the Reuben brothers's Aldersgate Investments, said there were no security issues from a potential investment from a consortium of Asian investors.

It insisted the deal is a property one and the company and the group of potential investors would have no access to data or involvement in the operations or management of the company.

But Rifkind raised concerns, saying: “The Government needs to be satisfied there are no risks involved."

Speaking to the Sunday Times, he said: "I would assume that they would be taking advice as we speak from the intelligence agencies, from GCHQ in particular and from others with the expertise to know the risk factor. It will be based on that as to whether there should be some intervention."

One member of the consortium is connected to a Chinese state-owned corporation.

City MP Mark Field said serious safeguards would likely need to be put in place due to the "sensitivities", as with an earlier deal between China's Huawei and BT for infrastructure.

Read more: Theresa May expected to keep China waiting on Hinkley Point decision at G20

"If the investment is concluded by the consortium, there will be no change to the management or strategic direction of Global Switch," the company said in a statement.

"Aldersgate Investments and the consortium will exercise joint control of Global Switch. From a customer perspective, Global Switch will continue to provide highly resilient and secure data centre space which complies with the guidance issued by the UK Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure as part of the UK Government’s national security strategy."

Global Switch operates 10 data centres around the world, including in London, Singapore and Sydney, with plans for a further location in Hong Kong.