UK welcomes UAE investment but says all deals subject to national security rules

Britain welcomes investment from the United Arab Emirates but all deals will be subject to Britain’s national security regime, Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden said on Thursday, after Reuters reported that its state-owned oil company had been interested in buying BP.

Reuters reported last week that the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) had considered buying Britain’s BP but did not progress beyond preliminary discussions, in part because of political considerations.

Asked about the Reuters report, and whether BP was considered too important to Britain to allow any foreign takeover, Dowden said Britain’s process for assessing takeovers operated regardless of which country a bid originated from.

“I very much welcome investment from the UAE,” Dowden said.

He added: “Any investment from any state needs to be subject to our national security and investment regime.”

Dowden made the comments during a Q&A session after a speech in which he said Britain was reviewing economic security measures, including the National Security and Investment (NSI) Act, which he said would be fine-tuned.

The NSI Act came into force in 2022, giving the government power to intervene in acquisitions on national security grounds in industries including energy.

British governments have in the past told London-listed BP that they would block any takeover attempts by foreign entities given the company’s strategic value, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The government had previously declined to comment directly on the Reuters report of ADNOC’s previous interest in BP.

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