Royal Assent has been granted to landmark bill, strengthening the governments ability to investigate mergers and deals that could threaten national security. The National Security and Investment Act will protect the public from malicious investment and makes the UK a more attractive place to invest with clarity and transparency.
The UK is consistently ranked as one of the world’s best places to invest. In part due to the strength of the workforce, innovation, and absence of unnecessary red tape.
The Act means that:
· the government will be able to scrutinise, impose conditions on or, as a last resort, block a deal wherever there is an unacceptable risk to Britain’s national security
· investors and businesses will have to notify a dedicated government unit - the Investment Security Unit - through a digital portal about certain types of transactions in designated sensitive sectors, such as artificial intelligence
· the UK’s screening powers will also be extended to include assets like intellectual property as well as companies
· the vast majority of transactions will be able to proceed unhindered and investments will be screened much faster than the current regime
· transactions are expected to be assessed within 30 working days and often more quickly, with timelines set out in law for the very first time
· investors can also notify any transaction voluntarily if they believe it has implications for national security
· to ensure that no dangerous deal can slip through the net unchecked, in addition to mandatory notification for certain sectors, the Secretary of State will also have the power to ‘call in’ acquisitions in the wider economy which were not notified to government but may raise national security concerns
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said ‘’As a nation that built itself on trade, enterprise and innovation, the UK remains one of the world’s most open, attractive and welcoming destinations for foreign investment.
‘’However, we will not compromise our national security and this Act is designed to make the investment screening process slicker, simpler and quicker for investors and businesses – giving them the certainty they need to invest and do business here.’’
Making the UK an attractive place to live, work and invest has been a government priority. The UK has already toughened the rules around investments and unexplained wealth through the use of ‘Unexplained Wealth Orders’ (UWOs). The National Crime Agency have used orders in the past to ensure that any high net worth individual can explain how they have come into their money.