This has got to be the stupidest law preparation I’ve heard in a while. Today’s Helsingin Sanomat writes (in Finnish unfortunately) about a law that is under preparation in the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. The law in essence gives the government the possibility to deny the sale of a corporation overseas, ie. an acquisition, if it endangers Finland’s “national interest”.
Finland’s Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice as well as the Finnish Competition Authority have said that the law is too broad. If the law goes through, it can infringe basic rights and the freedom of trade and industry. In my opinion, this is law would be a huge step towards a 1984 type totalitarianism.
The law would abide all acquisitions to be reported, if the acquirer is from outside the European Union and buys more than 10% of a company. Currently, acquisitions have to be reported if the company acquired has over 1000 employees or has revenue of over 167 million euros. Also, if more than a third of the company share holder rights are transferred, a notification of the sale is needed.
Some of the serious flaws in the law are that they do not clearly state what “national interest” means nor what industries the law essentially effects.
If Finland already has a hard time attracting foreign capital, this won’t make it any more attractive – even though the law would not have to be ever enforced. Secondly, it should be of “national interest” to sell companies overseas, to exaggerate a little, to create an attractive startup ecosystem.