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Foreign firms face takeover fines

Foreign companies that takeover British business will be hit by massive fines if they row back on jobs promises made during the deal, Vince Cable has announced.

Tougher laws are also being looked at to bolster the "national interest test" following concerns about the acquisition of major UK firms.

Pledges made during negotiations should be legally binding with penalties for breaking them running into millions of pounds, the Business Secretary said.

Mr Cable told the Sunday Times: "I want to ensure [that] where the commitments are not honoured, companies can be hit hard with tough financial penalties."

It follows controversy over the ultimately failed takeover bid by US pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer for British-based AstraZeneca.

Critics of the proposed deal warned that Pfizer's assurances were vague and raised concerns of job cuts as well as the loss of vital research and development carried out at the UK company.

Labour called at the time for the Government to strengthen the public interest test for takeovers s o any potential buyout would be subject to an assessment of how it impacted on Britain's strategic research and science base.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady welcomed the move, which she said was evidence of the Government tackling living standards rather than "union-bashing".

She told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "I think it's definitely a step in the right direction.

"This is the kind of thing that the Government should be concentrating on - how do we make sure that we get real investment for the future and we start tackling living standards instead of having a bit of old-fashioned union bashing."


From Belfast Telegraph