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Take-Over Bids (Foreigners)

Volume 887: debated on Monday 3 March 1975

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he is satisfied with the powers to control foreign take-over bids of British companies contained in Section 9 of the Exchange Control Act 1947;(2) how many applications have been received over the last 10 years, under Section 9 of the Exchange Control Act 1947, by foreign companies to take over British companies;(3) on how many occasions during the last 10 years consent has been withheld, under Section 9 of the Exchange Control Act 1947, for foreign companies to acquire control of British companies.

The powers contained in Section 9 of the Exchange Control Act 1947 are not in themselves sufficient to control all foreign take-overs. However, I am satisfied that these, together with other powers in that Act and in other legislation, to be strengthened by the additional power in Clause 9 of the Industry Bill, provide the Government with enough powers for the purpose.Applications for exchange control consent are not necessarily related to a specific section of the Act or expressed in the form of a take-over. However, during the five years 1969 to 1974, the period for which information is readily available, there were about 700 authorisations under the Act for foreign-controlled companies, both themselves and their United Kingdom subsidiaries, to acquire or increase their holdings in British companies to over 50 per cent. Not all of these authorisations would have been put into effect.No record of the number of applications for exchange control consent that are refused is maintained, but the number would be very small because applications unlikely to meet our requirements are unlikely to be formally submitted.