22 January 2010

Bleeding the country dry? Coporate takeovers in the UK

A brief history of corporate takeovers in recent years, the impact they have had, both personally and nationally, and some considerations about the future.



This particular takeover provided the redundancy package to one family member, four friends and six people 'I know'. It was a major employer in the area, and had many skilled members of staff who had given over twenty-five years 'service' to the manufacturing operations that took part firstly in Llandudno Junction and finally at Kinmel Bay, before the Italian owned company slowly cut the job numbers before finally closing the plant down in 2009.



The eventual closure of Anglesey Aluminum, its name giving away its niche industry, was also the largest employer on the a fore mentioned island; but this did not stop operations moving to Dubai when its parent company refused the help of the National Assembly in Wales and the UK government in Westminster to the tune of £48 million. This closure also affected the family of one close friend of mine.


How can this be possible under the power of a Labour government? A party created to defend the rights of working people. Free trade is fine in principle, but trade and takeovers that rip out the hearts of communities and at times individuals, highlight that sometimes the negative impact has to be taken into consideration. Whether that means the UK government (of whatever distinction) has to impart some protection on any jobs between UK-based and foreign companies interested in takeovers (highly unlikely). We ban any immigrant takeovers, ridiculous suggestion, ridiculously suggested. Or we hope the only important players in the market, the consumers, can be persuaded to switch allegiance to purely local shops, services and providers. A possibility. Free trade has to exist, governments usually have vested interests when it comes to regulation. The only answer has to be the promotion, to consumers, of local shops, local brands, local finance, local services, local production, local manufacturing, you get the gist. It does not have to be old-fashioned, it can digital, it can be on the radio or in the newspapers, it can be by mouth or council, but it has to be done. There are examples of this happening already, but it has to happen more.


Old BBC article about the speedy increase in corporatism after Blair took over from Major.


More recent analysis of takeovers and the consequent effects on the economy and society in general.


Ten of the most notable disappearing acts of this decade have been:

• British Energy sold majority stake to French power utility EDF in January for £12bn

• Scottish & Newcastle breweries sold to Carlsberg and Heineken in a joint bid worth nearly £8bn in 2008

• ICI sold to Dutch group Akzo Nobel for £8bn in 2008

• Scottish Power sold to Spain's Iberdrola for £11.6bn in 2007

• In 2006, airports operator BAA bought by Ferrovial, the Spanish construction conglomerate, for £10bn

• Thames Water sold to German utility RWE for £5bn in 2006

• Pilkington Glass sold to NSG of Japan for nearly £2bn in 2006

• P&O sold to Dubai Ports World for £3.3bn in 2005

• Abbey National bank bought by Spain's Santander in 2004 for £8.5bn

There will be thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, maybe even approaching millions who will have been negatively affected by these takeovers. Free trade is a brilliant economic principle, but the reality of monolithic entities increasing in size for the advantage of economies of scale versus the incredibly negative human impact of global non-community-based brand-led capitalistic free-trade has to be considered.

I cannot justify my belief in the liberal principle, in this case, when I consider the human impact.

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