×

FACTBOX-Europe's plans to protect prized assets from foreign buyers

Aug 15 (Reuters) - Governments across Europe are considering or implementing tighter rules on takeovers by overseas buyers as they try to prevent prized assets from falling into foreign hands.

The purchase last year of German robotics maker Kuka by Chinese company Midea raised concerns that China was gaining too much access to key technologies while shielding its own companies from foreign takeovers.

State-owned ChemChina's $43 billion purchase of Swiss pesticides and seeds group Syngenta also increased pressure in Europe to curb foreign acquisitions in strategically important sectors.

European Union leaders in June agreed to consider screening investments by state-owned Chinese firms, and France, Germany and Italy have backed the idea of allowing the EU to block Chinese investments.

However, some other EU countries, such as Sweden, have criticised the measures, saying they are protectionist.

The following are measures implemented or being considered by European countries:

BRITAIN

Prime Minister Theresa May's legislative agenda included tightening laws on company takeovers and ensuring any foreign group buying important infrastructure does not undermine security or essential services.

May said before the country's June election that she would tighten takeover laws and would ensure any foreign group buying important infrastructure did not undermine security or essential services.

EUROPEAN UNION

The bloc plans measures to block "politically-motivated" foreign investments, after Germany, France and Italy asked it to act against takeovers in strategic sectors. The proposal could give the EU - which can already block takeovers on antitrust grounds - additional powers to scrutinise investments.

FRANCE

French President Emmanuel Macron vowed at his first EU summit to convince China's closest allies in Europe that curbing foreign takeovers in strategic industries was in their interest, warning EU governments not to be naive in global trade. Since his election, Macron has sought to drum up support in Europe for what he calls a "protection agenda".

GERMANY

In July Germany became the first European Union country to tighten its rules on foreign takeovers with new regulations to allow its government to block moves which presented a risk of critical technology being lost abroad.

NETHERLANDS

Economic Affairs Minister Henk Kamp said in June he was looking again at plans he had previously announced to make it more difficult for foreign buyers to acquire listed Dutch companies. The policy under consideration would give corporate boards a year to reject a takeover offer.

Kamp's comments came after failed attempts by U.S. companies to buy paint maker Akzo Nobel and consumer products group Unilever.

ITALY

After French media group Vivendi last year sharply increased its holding in Mediaset, Italy drafted a bill to protect companies from hostile takeovers.

The bill envisaged forcing investors who had increased their holdings above 5 percent to state publicly their final objectives. But the plan was shelved earlier this year following disagreements in the ruling centre-left coalition.

Industry minister Carlo Calenda recently said the government could still press ahead with legislation as he commented on France's attempts to thwart a tie-up between Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri and STX France. ($1 = 0.8473 euros) (Compiled by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by David Holmes)