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Merkel eyes protecting German industry from unwanted foreign takeovers

German chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that the German government is considering ways to protect strategic domestic industries from takeovers by unwanted foreign state-controlled funds.

Speaking at her final news conference before the summer break, Merkel said while the single driving force behind private investment is to maximize profits, foreign state-controlled funds might seek political influence, which must be examined by the host country. She said that Berlin wants to intensify discussions on the issue, including drawing on the expertise of industry and studying US guidelines set by the US Committee on Foreign Investments. She also stressed that she favors a Europe-wide comprehensive solution to ensure fair investment rules. Without giving any details, the German chancellor said her government has just begun working on the plan and a German system to protect key businesses from foreign investors needs to be based on a system of guidelines, not outright bans on foreign investment. “A general ban is certainly not the right answer,” said Merkel.

According to earlier German media reports, Berlin may consider an expansion of its foreign investment rules beyond the defense industry to cover telecommunications, energy and post services. Stricter rules may also be considered to govern foreign investments on German ports, airports and rail services. (