GKN and blocking takeovers

The Times - 05 Apr 2018

Sir, Robert Lea’s intervention opens up the debate on corporate ownership (“Unions get wrong signals on GKN”, Business, Apr 4). Clearly the government has a significant role to play in this matter. For the sake of safeguarding our national security, the business secretary should insist that when GKN is sold on, its engineering and aerospace functions should be sold to a British firm.

But this matter extends beyond government. The national interest is intertwined with many other interests, including those of pensioners, consumers and employees. How can the clash between shareholders’ expectations and pensions obligations be squared? This is only one of the questions with which a new forum must concern itself.

Ideas around the creation of share-bloc-owning foundations with the role of protecting those different interests, and the power to block takeovers, should therefore be looked at urgently. The work and pensions select committee will begin this exercise from the angle of pensioners.

Frank Field, MP
Chairman, House of Commons work and pensions select committee