Germany will better protect its healthcare companies from non-European investors as the new coronavirus pandemic showed supply problems, the German Economics Ministry announced on Wednesday.
The ministry announced a decree for a "mandatory notification" when a foreign investor takes a stake exceeding 10% in companies "manufacturing vaccines, medicines, protective equipment or medical devices."
"The coronavirus crisis has shown the importance of medical know-how and production in Germany and Europe," explained Minister Peter Altmaier.
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The notification obligation already applies to other sectors. With this decree, approved by the Council of Ministers, the government is extending it to the healthcare sector.
"We are ensuring that the government is informed and can examine critical takeovers of companies in the health sector", Altmaier added.
Germany is increasingly tightening its safeguards against planned acquisitions of strategic companies, fearing that foreign groups looking for good deals could take advantage of the pandemic, which has weakened the European economy.
The European Commission has also already urged the other EU member countries to "protect themselves" against such a threat.
In March, the German government had to mobilise to fend off approaches spurred by the White House aimed at taking over a German pharmaceutical laboratory, CureVac, which is well placed in the race for a new coronavirus vaccine.
In a draft law tabled in April, the German government proposes to tighten the conditions even further: it plans to introduce a rule prohibiting buyers and sellers from starting any transfer of assets before obtaining government approval. This text is still awaiting the green light from Parliament.
The Brussels Times