Cameron: More foreign takeovers please, we're British

The Shard: Built thanks to Islamic finance
The Shard: Built thanks to Islamic finance
Alex Stevenson By

David Cameron will court controversy today by insisting Britain is better off if foreign companies take over the UK's biggest companies.

The prime minister's comments will raise eyebrows after he called US food firm Kraft's £11.7 billion takeover of iconic chocolate brand Cadbury in 2010 "heartbreaking".

Since entering Downing Street he has adopted a different tone - and will go out of his way to confront the issue in his speech to the World Islamic Economic Forum in London.

"I know some people look at foreign companies investing in our businesses or taking over our football clubs and ask – shouldn't we do something to stop it?" Cameron is expected to say.


"Well, let me tell you, the answer is 'no'. One of Britain's great USPs is its openness and this openness is a vital part of how we ensure our country is a great success story in the global race.

"Foreign investment creates wealth, jobs and growth. And far from weakening our industrial base, that investment actually strengthens it."

Britain has been remarkable among western nations for the number of foreign takeovers of its leading firms in recent years.

Boots, Selfridges, the Dorchester hotel, Jaguar Rover, Asda, Corus and Camelot have all seen their bosses switched abroad in recent years.

And smaller-scale acquisitions have pushed the total takeover bill up in the shorter-term, too.

The second quarter of 2013 saw £23.4 billion spent on takeovers from companies not based in Britain - the highest amount for six years.

Cameron has embraced the trend - and will make clear he believes Britain benefits as a result.

"There are some countries which naturally look inwards, pull up the drawbridge and refuse to recognise that the way the world is changing affects their future success. But Britain will not make that mistake," he is expected to add.

"We know we are in a global race for our economic future so we are backing our businesses, seeking new markets and banging the drum for Britain to show we are a first-class destination for trade and investment."

UK courts Islamic capital

A key part of the UK's strategy is an attempt to open up Britain to Islamic cash.

Cameron will declare his ambition of making London one of the great financial capitals of the world for Islamic finance in his speech.

London's skyline is already bankrolled by Islamic money, with finance from the Muslim world having contributed to the financing for developments of buildings like the Shard, Chelsea Barracks and the Olympic Village.

Now Cameron will announce the Treasury is working on plans to issue an Islamic bond worth around £200 million and that London Stock Exchange is launching an Islamic Market Index.

This is the first time the World Economic Islamic Forum has met outside the Islamic world.

Over 1,800 delegates from over 115 countries will assemble in London for the speech later.

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