May 31, 2023

Oliver Dowden, the new deputy prime minister, will this week try to clarify Britain’s new foreign investment regime following complaints about its opacity.

Sky News understands that the Cabinet Office will publish new guidance on Thursday for foreign investors on the National Security & Investment Act, which came into effect early last year.

Sources said the revised guidance would provide more transparency about the use of interim orders during transactions and the timeframes applied to checks under the legislation.

It will also seek to provide foreign buyers with more information about when acquisitions under consideration become formally notifiable under the law.

The NS&I Act has so far been used sparingly to block acquisitions altogether, but has led to complaints from some investors that there is insufficient information about how the scrutiny process works.

A source from the Cabinet Office said: “The Deputy Prime Minister is committed to making this process as open and transparent as possible, and ministers have held talks with the business community to hear their views.

“He doesn’t want this process to become a black box and wants companies to know where they stand so it’s as easy as possible to navigate.”

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden smiles as he leaves BBC Broadcasting House in London after appearing on BBC One's current affairs program with Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday.  Photo date: Sunday, March 19, 2023.
Oliver Dowden

Among the transactions enacted under the Act is the acquisition of Truphone, a telecom technology company, which was eventually approved by the government.

LetterOne, the investment vehicle founded by a group of businessmen subsequently sanctioned in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is facing the forced divestment of its stake in Upp, a broadband company.

The government has set up the Investment Security Unit as part of the new regime to oversee its implementation.