In a move that risks being viewed as a u-turn on policy, the UK government is reportedly considering enacting laws to protect domestic energy champion Centrica from foreign takeover.
Despite having paved the way to one of the most liberal energy markets in Europe and having criticized continental neighbors for their anti-liberalizing moves, the UK government is believed to be contemplating drawing up laws to effectively block overseas takeovers of domestic energy outfits.
The surprise move is considered by many to be a direct response to Russian gas titan Gazprom’s recent interest in UK gas supply leader Centrica.
According to the UK newspaper The Guardian, trade and industry secretary Alan Johnson and other ministers have taken eight briefings by civil servants on UK merger laws. Russian news provider Mosnews has described these meetings as discussion on how to block a potential bid from Gazprom for Centrica.
Apparently the conclusion of the meetings in question was that current British laws would not be able to block a takeover move for the British Gas owner. Therefore new legislation would be required, with the Enterprise Act 2002 as a potential starting point, the Guardian suggests.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the Department of Trade and Industry has described the meetings as discussions on the implications of a takeover, while declining to make comment on possible future developments.