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This paper discusses the implications of Brexit on the ability of the UK Government to intervene in cross-border mergers to protect domestic ‘strategic interests’ of the kind identified by the Prime Minister in her speech in July (in which she argued that “a proper industrial strategy wouldn’t automatically stop the sale of British firms to foreign ones, but it should be capable of stepping in to defend a sector that is as important as pharmaceuticals is to Britain”). In light of the recent consultation by the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the appropriate degree of UK Government intervention in foreign takeovers, the paper considers the scope for the UK Government to intervene on public interest grounds under the UK’s existing merger control regime, the constraints currently imposed on such intervention by EU laws and the possible implications of Brexit for acquirers of businesses operating in strategic sectors where both UK and EU merger control thresholds are met.
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