24 June 2020
‘Combatting low cost foreign takeovers of vulnerable companies in medical and strategic sectors in the wake of Covid-19’
This webinar discussion brought together a panel of expert speakers with different backgrounds to examine economic resilience and the risk of low cost foreign takeovers of companies in medical and other strategic sectors (such as critical technologies) that may have become especially vulnerable as a result of Covid-19. In particular, Ireland’s Competitiveness Scorecard 2020 highlights that Irish businesses could be exposed to global economic disruption caused by the pandemic and there is a risk that businesses are likely to struggle. The Irish government’s Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) held a public consultation in the first half of 2020 on such investment screening of foreign direct investments since Ireland’s policy position has been under development in relation to the implementation of the EU Regulation of Investment Screening that is due to come into effect in October 2020. Key questions include whether to introduce an investment screening mechanism on inward investments from third countries on the grounds of security and public order, without undermining the EU’s general openness to foreign investment.
Caitríona Heinl moderated this conversation-style discussion between Danny McCoy, CEO of Ibec; Paddy McGuinness, Senior Adviser at the Brunswick Group and Former UK Deputy National Security Advisor; WENYAN MA Winston, Adjunct Professor of Law at the NYU School of Law and former Managing Director of the China Investment Corporation (CIC); and Helen Kelly, Partner and Head of the EU, Competition and Regulatory Law Group at Matheson. The panelists explored whether Covid-19 is a wake up call for the already urgent need to examine stricter foreign investment controls given ongoing concern that strategic assets and technologies are not adequately protected against foreign investments where some experts argue that these developments could possibly undermine an EU Member State or the single market itself. They also discussed the types of actions that are needed to prevent these scenarios, including analysis of recent steps being taken in other countries and EU Member States such as Germany where the Cabinet approved a new law to prevent foreign takeovers of medical companies.