Grant Shapps waves through $10bn Aveva deal despite security concerns


Grant Shapps waves through $10bn Aveva deal despite security concerns over UK tech champion’s sale to China-linked conglomerate

Grant Shapps faced a backlash last night after he defied calls to probe the takeover of a British technology giant by a conglomerate with links to China.

The Business Secretary waved through the £10billion deal despite calls from analysts and politicians to review it under the National Security and Investment Act.

Aveva, a FTSE 100 firm that provides software to help engineers design major industrial projects and products to help run factories, is due to be bought by French firm Schneider following a crunch vote last month in which it overcame opposition from major shareholders.

Business Secretary Grant Shapps (pictured) waved through the Aveva deal through despite calls from analysts and politicians to review it under the National Security and Investment Act

Schneider will now snap up the 41 per cent of the company that it does not already own, taking Aveva off the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and dealing a blow to the UK’s credibility as a hub for innovative tech firms. 

The takeover has also caused concern in political circles due to the French company’s links to China.

Schneider has had a joint venture with Chinese conglomerate Delixi Electric since 2007, raising fears among critics that Aveva’s proprietary technology is at risk from Beijing. 

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘The Government should at least have called it in to see what the potential is for data, for technology, for information or for anything to help the Chinese government. 

That should be investigated before passing it.

‘It should be standard practice to call it in first when there is any Chinese involvement at all, that should be the default of the Government.’

And Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, said: ‘It is disappointing because they set up this whole process for this exact reason. 

‘The process does not seem to have been followed, with no rationale as to why.’ 

Shapps yesterday decided that the Government would take ‘no further action’ on the deal under the NSI Act, which allows authorities to intervene and even block takeovers on national security grounds.

A month previously Shapps blocked the Chinese takeover of Britain’s biggest microchip maker Newport Wafer Fab over security concerns.

The Government used its powers under the NSI Act to order Nexperia to reduce its stake by 86pc.

The deal has also dealt a blow to Jeremy Hunt’s plans to turn the UK into the ‘world’s next Silicon Valley’ by combining the country’s science and technology prowess with its ‘formidable financial services’.

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