by Leonardo Manzari
Take overs by European groups in EU countries are often subject of negative perceptions and reactions by national communities, local governments etc., with the reason that the company subject of the acquisition responds to national interests, has a strategic importance for the country etc.
Quite often, the national government applies the rule of Golden Share, a tool which allows a State to defend its sovereignty among the shareholders of a company, even with a very limited share or percentage of the capital.
Look at France when any of its large companies, no matter the sector, are at the centre of foreign multinationals’ interest….
In most cases, it is not a matter affecting strategic sectors, but a cultural aspect resulting from the dirigistic tradition of its national industrial economy and the subsequent role that the State still plays in almost any sector…..
The fact is also that each member state considers “strategic” some sectors which have not the same importance for other nations. This determines allowing single States to use each M&A operation where local companies are involved, to negotiate other issues with the country of origin of the investing company, and imposing timing and bureaucracy which is not helping the M&A to become successful.
The use of Golden Share is not the same in each member country.
At the end…..the number and varieties of crossed vetoes among the 27 countries is becoming a way to reduce the competitiveness of European groups, in front of their global competitors…….and EU Commission is increasingly producing disadvantages instead of synergies……..
The level of financial freedom, and even of sovereign support by their own national government, is allowing Chinese, Turkish, Indian, US multinationals, etc…..to increase their dimensions and enlarge their field of activity, reaching what we call “critical mass” to play a global role.
European groups have to make the choice to develop their “mass” outside the EU or to remain a “medium weight”, possibly subject of heavy weight predators.
By this point of view Brexit becomes has a clear meaning for a country, which has almost lost its industrial role in the world, but hosts one of the main financial centres worldwide. Not to mention its central role for the members of the British Commmonwealth, the developing countries in Africa, Asia etc (often eager to escape the hundry industrial and financial control of their former colonial empire…..France, Belgium, Portugal, Spain…etc).
Now the question is: do exist the conditions in the EU for uniforming the concept of «strategic interest» and thus of «golden share» among all member states?
Is there a hope for a EU Directive to revert this « minus » into a strong « plus » for the most successful economic bloc of the world?
Probably not, if we consider the short view of political leaders of the Union, cause but also result of the egoistic approach inside their national public opinions (and of their fiscal paradises….).
But the issue is very urgent, if EU wants to escape the process to become a peripherical region for economic development and a passive actor inside the big game of who may determine the path of world evolution.
If member states are not able to overcome their traditional and different cultures in economy and industry (no to forget or abolish them but to create a much more riendly business environment), it will remain the place of many small « Heimat »….beautiful to see, to visit, to study…..but not to compete!
Tourism will probably go on flourishing, but can we renounce to play a role in modern secondary and tertiary economies?