Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Foreign Takeovers

I am not totally against foreign companies taking over British companies, but I believe that there are certain industries which it is advisable for us to have on our own soil so that their facilities and products may be used in a time of emergency.
There is surely little harm in the shares of infrastructure companies being held abroad, the Spanish owners of Heathrow can't suddenly uproot it and move it to Madrid, but when it comes to manufacturing, it is a different matter. There is nothing to stop the new owners deciding to move some or all of the business to a cheap labour country as Kraft did with Cadburys, in spite of promises to the contrary. The net result of a deal like this is that the owners in this country get a one-time payment, but thereafter, all the customers wanting the product have to rely on it being imported with not only an adverse effect on our balance of trade, but with the profits from sales generally going to the shareholders outside the UK.
I am thus opposed to the sale of AstraZeneca to a US company as it would be quite easy, as with Cadburys, to move production to a lower cost country. Not only would this have yet a further adverse effect on the country's balance of payments, but we would have no control over quality and standards.
We need a major pharmaceutical company in Britain, and it is perhaps of historical interest to note that at the outbreak of World War Two, one of the first actions of the "Custodian of Enemy Property" was to secure the assets of the German Bayer company in the UK so as to ensure the continued supply of pharmaceuticals, including the humble Asprin.
We may not be expecting war but we keep being told that various pandemics are imminent so we surely need both pharmaceutical research and production facilities in this country in order to safeguard the interests of the people living here.

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