This week, we bring you three news stories to be aware of and keep an eye out for, as these stories are still developing. We also offer you some thinking points, to get your commercial awareness juices flowing.
A New Foreign Investment Control Regime
Not too long ago, about late last month, business secretary Alok Sharma looked to amend legislation to allow the departments for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to intervene in deals concerning such as protective equipment manufacturers and those in the food supply chain that are struggling financially and are facing takeovers from foreign companies.
The changes in the Enterprise Act 2002, aim to strike a balance between protecting national security, while maintaining Britain’s status as an attractive place to invest.
Things to Consider
The British government is keen to protect British businesses from being exploited by foreign companies that may wish to acquire struggling British businesses, disband them and potentially acquire more market share in a specific industry.
Lawyers that work in the Corporate M&A and Competition law field will need to be alert to these changes, in order to advise foreign investors at an early stage. With the Competition and Market Authority known for pausing deals, a further interventionist approach, might discourage investors from investing. This and the additional burden of Brexit as well as the economic downturn, could cause a further strain on the British economy. On the other hand, such an approach is needed to ensure that British businesses are being invested in, as opposed to exploited, for the better good of the overall economy. It’s all about establishing a balance here.
Time’s Up Tik Tok
This week’s major story, saw the Trump Administration express its wish to blacklist the TikTok from the US, due to concerns over China obtaining personal data via the social media platform. This would make it difficult for US technology companies to provide technology to TikTok. This includes software updates, which will become difficult to do on Apple devices for example.
With the popularity of TikTok, especially with celebrities that may be paid through the app, this might prove difficult.
However, on the legal side of things, it seems like cyber security is becoming a huge topic of conversation as countries adopt more protectionist approaches for their citizens and their data. Not too long-ago Britain chose, to finally exclude Huawei, a Chinese network provider, from its 5G network plans, for fear of China having access to Britain’s data. Lastly, and one that might hit a bit closer to home, Twitter everyone’s favourite app was recently hacked. The hackers made around £86,800. As cyber security becomes more of an issue, companies will flock to cybersecurity lawyers as well as other lawyers familiar with the technology industry, for advice on ways to stay protected.
Update on Google and Fitbit Acquisition
As mentioned two weeks ago, Google is looking to acquire Fitbit for $2.1 billion. Due to the enormous amount of data that Google will have access to, this week; during the investigation by the EU regulators, Google is being required to make concessions. The EU now wants Google to pledge that it will not use data from Fitbit to advance its competitive advantage. Though Google has made a similar statement before, the EU wants an additional pledge.
Things to Consider
If you are interested in anti-trusts, this is significant because of the amount of health data that Google will have access to through Fitbit. This could allow Google to monetise such data through targeted advertising, which gives Google an unfair advantage. Hence the potential anti-competitive nature of the deal.