UK merger control: Public health emergencies and foreign takeover scrutiny

New measures, announced on 21 June 2020, will allow the UK Government to intervene in relation to transactions involving businesses with "critical capabilities" to help combat public health emergencies, such as coronavirus.

Additional planned measures include expanding the list of sectors to which significantly lower merger control thresholds apply (artificial intelligence, cryptographic authentication technology and advanced materials). This step comes after similar powers were introduced in 2018 in relation to military, dual-use and advanced technology sectors (see our previous briefing note).

Both developments form part of a trend towards greater involvement by Government in merger control cases, and come ahead of the publication of the planned National Security and Investment Bill.

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