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Foreign investments in cutting-edge tech: pure business or a national security matter?

London, 25 September 2019

17 September 2019

Clifford Chance will be hosting a breakfast roundtable in conjunction with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). Lord (George) Robertson, former NATO Secretary-General and former UK Defence Secretary, and Jenine Hulsmann, Partner, Clifford Chance, will be in conversation with Simon Nixon, Chief Leader Writer, The Times.

Non-European entities, including investors, are a common and welcome part of business in Europe. When it comes to investments in cutting-edge technology, however, the picture becomes less clear. European governments are increasingly concerned about Chinese investments in companies with unique and strategic expertise. In 2016, a Chinese company bought the German industrial-robot innovator Kuka. Three of Sweden’s most advanced semi-conductor companies have been acquired by Chinese companies with military links. The German government has used its investment bank to thwart similar Chinese investments, and last year the EU passed a law allowing for greater scrutiny of foreign investments. The UK government, in turn, operates on the basis of a law from 2002, though Theresa May’s government tried to gain more powers to prevent certain foreign investments.

The increasingly acute question is: where does business end and national security start? Do Western governments – including the UK government – need to play a stronger role in investments into cutting-edge technology companies? Or are national-security fears overblown?

This event is by invitation only. For any questions regarding this event, please contact Allana Howard.