Cable Brushes Aside Calls for Ministerial Takeover Veto

U.K. Business Secretary Vince Cable brushed aside calls for a tighter public-interest test on takeovers following Pfizer Inc.’s abandoned attempt to buy AstraZeneca Plc.

Pfizer dropped its 69 billion-pound ($118 billion) bid for AstraZeneca on May 26. Prompted by an outcry from British scientists, Ed Miliband, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, had said the government should block the offer. He said earlier this month that if Labour wins next year’s general election he would legislate to introduce a national-interest test on takeovers.

Answering questions from the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee in London today, Cable said foreign takeovers could benefit U.K. companies, citing Tata Motors Ltd.’s ownership of Jaguar Land Rover Ltd.

“I could argue that the best and leading British manufacturing company is Tata, which happens to be Indian,” Cable said. Pushed on the idea of an enhanced test for takeovers, he questioned the wisdom of having “a politician at a desk sticking a finger in the air and saying: ‘I like them, but I don’t like them.’”

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