Plans to strengthen UK takeover laws on national security grounds should be part of a wider shake up that ‘slams the door’ on hostile ‘casino style’ takeovers which destroy British jobs and investment, the UK’s largest union, Unite said today (Tuesday 24 July).

Responding to the government’s plans to increase the scrutiny of foreign takeovers in industries that present national security concerns, Unite pointed to the experience of the recent hostile takeover of GKN.  

Warning that government plans were likely to fall short in curbing the short termism of the city, Unite urged minsters to be bolder in reforming takeover laws to ensure wider stakeholder interests, including those of the workforce and local communities as well as the national interest, trumped the short term interests of speculators.   

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “The penny seems to have finally dropped on the need for government to strengthen the UK’s takeover laws on national security grounds. Whether ministers’ proposals go far enough is doubtful.  

“The additional powers being proposed, while welcome, are limited to takeovers of British companies from overseas corporations. This would not have stopped UK based Melrose’s hostile takeover of GKN, even though it was kicked over the line by US based hedge funds looking for a quick profit. 

“Nor will today’s proposals curtail future UK to UK takeovers driven by short-term city speculation rather than the need for long-term stability and investment. 

“These plans need to be a prelude to a wider shake up of takeover laws that put long-term investment and workers’ interests ahead of the predatory short-termism of hedge funds and speculative capital. 

“Ending the sale or transfer of voting shares and derivatives after a hostile bid has been announced, giving enhanced voting rights to long-term investors as well as meaningful engagement with the workforce and its unions are minimum protections that must be introduced.

“Anything less will be a missed opportunity to protect a fledgling industrial strategy by slamming the door on ‘casino style’ takeovers and stopping speculators from running riot with British companies.”


For further information please contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065 or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.  

Notes to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.