Peter Hoskin

The government goes for growth, as Cable tackles takeovers

The government goes for growth, as Cable tackles takeovers
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As Benedict Brogan observes, the government's renewed emphasis upon growth is hardly deafening – but it is certainly echoing through this morning's newspaper coverage. Exhibit A is the Sunday Telegraph, which carries an article by David Cameron and an interview with Vince Cable – both of which sound all the same notes about enterprise, infrastructure, deregulation, tax and trade. There's a letter by George Osborne in the Sunday Express, which contains the word "growth" a half-dozen times. And then there's Cameron's claim that the next decade will be "the most entrepreneurial in Britain's history," in a podcast on the Downing St website. Welcome to two weeks devoted, apparently, to growth and reform.

 

This shift in emphasis is welcome, wise and well-timed. In the aftermath of a tough spending review, it was always possible that Ed Miliband's "growth deniers" charge could stick – so the coalition is trying to present a brighter, more optimistic front. But putting aside the public relations, there are some issues of policy in all this – and one of them crops up in Cable's Sunday Telegraph interview. The Business Secretary tells the paper that he is eager to introduce a "Cadbury's Law," to curb the kind of takeover methods by which Kraft acquired Cadbury last year. Crucially, he says that he wants to go "further" than the recommendations made by the Takeover Panel earlier this week:

"'The Takeover Panel didn't go for some of the more radical solutions like restricting the voting rights of short-term investors who have just come in to make a quick killing during a takeover bid,' [Cable] said.

'There does remain a problem that as far as we can see from the objective evidence takeovers tend to reduce value, not increase it.

'We are going to have to look [at it]. I want to take what the Takeover Panel has done – and it is positive – and probably go rather further.

'We want to consult properly, not just as they did predominantly amongst the people in the City who are in the takeover business but amongst business more widely.'"

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