More Long-Termism Needs To Be Built Into The UK’s Corporate Culture

Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon) (Lab): The hon. Gentleman is making an interesting and important point about foreign takeovers, particularly hostile takeovers

Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon) (Lab): The hon. Gentleman is making an interesting and important point about foreign takeovers, particularly hostile takeovers. One of the important ones recently was Pfizer’s attempt to take over AstraZeneca. I am sure he agrees that that case concluded in absolutely the right way, by protecting one of the great British assets and enabling it to continue its long-term strategies of investment in innovation and technology. Does he agree that this issue should perhaps be seen as a case for reform of the Companies Act 2006, so that we see far more long-termism built into the UK’s corporate culture and a move towards investing in innovation, R and D, and skills? If we do not do that, we will never change to a more sustainable business model.

George Kerevan: I could not agree with the hon. Gentleman more. One of the things that has led to the short-termism over the last 20 to 30 years is precisely the fact that companies are not in a position to think long term themselves, because the way that the City of London and the casino economy work means that their shares are always in play. We need company reform to allow investment to take place without it being subject to shares being shorted and without share buyback activity by Rolls-Royce or other companies when the money should be going into real investment.