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UK launches new bill to protect country from malicious investment

by LLB Editor
11th Nov 20 11:38 am

A new Bill to modernise the government’s powers to investigate and intervene in potentially hostile foreign direct investment that threatens UK national security will be introduced by ministers today (DATE).

Under the National Security and Investment Bill, the government will be taking a targeted, proportionate approach to ensure it can scrutinise, impose conditions on or, as a last resort, block a deal in any sector where there is an unacceptable risk to national security.

The new regime will update the UK’s current powers – which are almost 20 years old and do not reflect the threats we face today – and bring them in line with those of our closest allies, without hindering the UK’s world-leading reputation as an attractive place to invest.

This will mean that no deal which could threaten the safety of the British people goes unchecked, and will ensure vulnerable businesses are not successfully targeted by potential investors seeking to cause them harm.

The new regime will apply to investors from any country, but will remain targeted and proportionate, so most transactions will be cleared without any intervention and foreign direct investment projects can continue to boost jobs and stimulate the economy across the UK, while ensuring the UK remains an attractive place to invest.

By bringing the UK’s regime into the twenty-first century, the government will make the screening system slicker and quicker for investors, providing certainty and transparency by working to clear timelines for decisions and making administrative procedures smooth.

Under the Bill, investors and businesses will have to notify a dedicated government unit through a single digital portal about certain types of transactions in designated sensitive sectors, such as our defence, energy and transport sectors, to ensure it can investigate and take action to address any national security risks.

The Bill will also extend our screening powers so we can interrogate the acquisition of sensitive assets and intellectual property, as well as the acquisition of companies.

Investments will be screened much more quickly than the current regime, assessing transactions within 30 working days – and often faster – with timelines set out in law rather than by the government on a case-by-case basis as is currently the case.

The vast majority of transactions will require no intervention and will be able to proceed quickly and with certainty in the knowledge that the government will not revisit a transaction once cleared unless inaccurate information was provided.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “The UK remains one of the most attractive investment destinations in the world and we want to keep it that way.

“But hostile actors should be in no doubt – there is no back door into the UK.

“This Bill will mean that we can continue to welcome job-creating investment to our shores, while shutting out those who could threaten the safety of the British people.”


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