Tuesday May 28, 2024

Germany plans new curbs on foreign takeovers

April 08, 2020

BERLIN: German ministers plan to approve Wednesday a new law tightening checks on foreign takeovers of the country's companies, aiming to keep critical production and knowhow within its borders.

The weekly cabinet meeting "will deal with" the updated foreign investment law, government sources told AFP. Already in progress before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the plans have been lent fresh urgency by shortfalls of critical supplies.

"Recent weeks have shown that supplying the German people with items vital for life, like vaccines, can depend on a single company," a government source told the Funke newspaper group. A key element of the reform is lowering the threshold for Berlin to block a takeover by an investor based outside the EU. Instead of demonstrating that the acquisition presents a real danger to German security, in future officials will only have to prove a "likely impact".

Meanwhile takeovers will be placed on ice while the government makes such assessments, preventing the new owners laying hands on any of the target firm´s intellectual property. "Information or technology seeping out during an ongoing investment check can have serious consequences," a government source told Funke.