April 28, 2020 / 11:51 AM / 2 months ago

Germany plans to examine non-EU purchases of stakes in its healthcare firms

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany is preparing a change to its foreign trade regulations that would require the government to be informed of purchases by countries outside the European Union of stakes in key healthcare companies, the Economy Ministry said on Tuesday.

The draft, which the ministry has submitted to other government departments and business associations for review and which must still be approved by the cabinet, would apply to acquisitions from non-EU states, or so-called ‘third countries’, of company stakes of 10% of more.

“We must be informed in good time about critical acquisitions from third countries in the health sector and be able to examine them,” Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said in a statement.

“We must be able to take a closer look here if necessary,” he said, adding that the plan concerned companies that make or develop vaccines, medicines and medical protective equipment, for example.

“This is how we can prevent medical know-how and production capacity that is key for the population’s healthcare from going abroad. The coronavirus crisis we’re currently experiencing shows this is a necessity,” he added.

Last month, Germany and Italy spearheaded a national scramble for ventilators as manufacturers warned that hospitals everywhere faced a lack of vital equipment needed to treat coronavirus patients.

Reporting by Christian Kraemer; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Michelle Martin

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