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Following the planned acquisition of domestic companies (such as AstraZeneca) by foreign corporations, do the UK’s merger rules need amending? Mark Curtis, a partner in the corporate & commercial team at Simmons & Simmons LLP, discusses whether the public interest categories should be extended, comparing the rules of other European regimes.
In the UK, the controversial possible offer for AstraZeneca by Pfizer (in May 2014) has reignited concerns which arose following the takeover of Cadbury plc by Kraft Foods. in 2009. Press speculation has been rife about the possible introduction of protectionist measures, including extending the ‘public interest’ test (which allows the government to intervene on grounds of national security, media plurality and financial stability).
To date no concrete proposals have been introduced. The Takeover Panel has introduced proposals to amend the UK Takeover Code to give it greater ability to monitor and enforce any undertakings given by bidders in relation to how they will conduct an acquired business post acquisition. These changes are not specifically targeted at takeovers by foreign companies, although the issue of the bidder’s plans for the business post-acquisition was a hot topic in Kraft/Cadbury and Pfizer/AstraZeneca.
Under the EU Merger
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