Increasing public desire to protect national interests is
encouraging US and EU governments to respond with greater
M&A intervention powers. But a definition of what is
considered a sensitive sector is proving challenging.
The US has increased its merger oversight enforcement
capabilities by overhauling the Committee on Foreign Investment
in the United States (Cfius) regime, and plans to extend its
powers to investigate and block foreign transactions. In the
EU, things are moving in a similar direction.
In January 2016, ChemChina acquired German plastic processor
KraussMaffei for $1 billion, a record for a Chinese
company’s acquisition of a German company. Two and
a half years on, Germany has blocked two Chinese-backed
takeovers in the space of a month: a takeover of network
operator 50Hertz and engineering company Leifeld, both on the
basis of national security.
In this time, Brexit and the Trump election victory are two