Euro bureaucrats make M&A power play over frightening foreigners
We all knew Canadians were afraid of the dark and that Scots are not always fond of vegetables, but who knew the European Commissioners were wary of foreigners? Reports Telecoms.com (Banking Technology‘s sister publication).
In her latest speech, the European Commission’s chief Gaggler for competition Margrethe Vestager, has seemingly set the tone; foreign money isn’t as good as the euro. The latest move is a bit of a power play, with the Commission (hereafter known as the Gaggle of Red-tapers) seeking more influence over M&A activity.
“Because we know that fair competition is the way for Europe to succeed. But it needs to be based on a real level playing field,” says Vestager.
“In the last few months, we’ve heard concerns about foreign – often state-owned – investors taking over European companies that control key technologies. This issue isn’t simple. It needs careful consideration, before we decide how to act. We’re working on this issue now, and we plan to put forward concrete proposals in the autumn.”
In short, the Gagglers are hoping to emulate those crafty Germans. In the land of beer and sausages, the Government now has the power to veto certain acquisitions, should said acquisition impact national security or involve cutting-edge technology. There are several versions of these rules throughout the European Union; deals can be blocked if it can be proved to impact something of national importance, such as defence, energy, financial stability or security.
The rules were drawn up after the lederhosen enthusiasts objected to a bid for robot maker Kuka from Chinese organisation Midea Group. The acquisition ultimately went through without intervention, but it seems the grumpy Germans seemingly wanted to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
It’s a nice, broad brief (which will put a smile on the faces of the lethargic legislators, who seem to work most efficiently [if efficient is even possible when talking about the Gaggle of Red-tapers] in the grey areas), which will extend the influence of the weary watchdog.
Currently, the Gaggle can only intervene in deals on the grounds of competition, but this new approach will make sure Commissioner Vestager will be able to make sure European companies are for European people, like any worthwhile xenophobe.
And for those who have already felt the sharp edge of the Gagglers tedious (albeit very slow moving) stick, such rules would allow the cumbersome bureaucrat to weigh in pretty much where ever it want. Almost everything in the telco or technology space could be considered cutting-edge; nothing will be safe from the army of meandering coffee-breakers.
If you were under the impression regulators were able to slow down technological developments to date, wait until these rules get passed. You appreciation for how little can get done by over-paid and over-indulged public servants will be taken to a new level.
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