by Jerome a Paris
Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 04:15:37 AM EST
Gazprom prompted rethink on UK merger rules
The UK considered changing its merger control regime this year to block a potential takeover of Centrica, the UK’s biggest gas supplier, by Gazprom of Russia, a move that remains an option to thwart any bid that threatens energy security.
Alan Johnson, the trade and industry secretary who has been a vocal critic of protectionism in the US and Europe, was briefed with other ministers in February on the legal changes required to allow them to block a rumoured bid by Gazprom for Centrica, the Financial Times has learnt.
Mr Johnson this month attacked other countries for using as a protectionist “veil” concerns about bids posing a threat to security. But he also said that bids “should be of concern when there is a genuine issue of national security at risk”.
Energy supply, a central criterion in the UK government’s current review of energy policy, “could cross the boundary” between unjustified and genuine security issues and justify political intervention, a government aide said.
Let's restate the rules on takeovers simply:
European company = protectionism = bad
UK company = national security = OK
Other relevant posts:
Article deconstruction (vol. 6): Brown and protectionism
EU Energy reform = give Britain access to the continent's cheap spare capacity