‘Greater powers to intervene needed’

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Former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine has said the Government should have greater powers to intervene when UK companies are targeted for takeover by foreign firms.

The Conservative peer, who is an adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron on economic growth, was speaking just days after American drugs giant Pfizer announced a bid for AstraZeneca in what would be the biggest foreign takeover of a British firm.

US drugs giant Pfizer stepped up its pursuit of Britain's AstraZeneca

US drugs giant Pfizer stepped up its pursuit of Britain's AstraZeneca

Lord Heseltine said takeovers “could be very helpful”, but argued that Britain should do more to protect key national interests, such as the science base.

He suggested that Ministers should have “reserve powers” to protect British companies when crucial interests are at stake.

“Foreign takeovers can often be hugely helpful and I have no doctrinal preoccupations – I’ve done enough takeovers of small businesses myself to know how valuable they can be,” Lord Heseltine told the BBC.