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UK to table bill that protects tech firms from foreign takeovers

(Image credit: Photo credit: karen roach / Shutterstock)

The UK Government is preparing a new bill that, if passed, will make it more difficult for foreign investors to snap up the country's technology startups - a move likely aimed primarily at Chinese investors.

The bill has been in the works for a number of years, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under increased pressure to address aggressive foreign takeovers, especially from Chinese venture capitalists. Last month, he announced he would accelerate measures to ensure the country “protects our technological base”.

According to The Telegraph, some have celebrated the move, but others fear the bill could stifle the ability of startups to gather the funding they need to survive.

Johnson's adviser Dominic Cummings is on record as opposing the sale of UK based AI firm DeepMind to Google, which he said amounted to selling off “valuable asset” for “trivial money, without the powers-that-be in Whitehall understanding its significance."

On the other hand, former ARM CEO Sir Robin Saxby believes the legislation could damage the competitiveness of the UK technology sector. 

“It’s really hard for politicians to understand how business really works. I’d say to them: don’t get confused with stock markets and takeovers,” he said.

The new bill is said to be linked to the ongoing effort to minimise the UK's reliance on Chinese businesses. In this spirit, Johnson announced last week that he would reverse his decision to allow Chinese telecoms firm Huawei to work on the UK 5G network and will now aim to remove the company from the network by 2023.