Another British company heading overseas?

I wrote to the chairman of Scottish Power to urge his company to think of shareholders’ long term interests and the interests of the country and to reject any offer from Scottish Power’s Spanish, or any other, suitors. Scottish Power’s reply arrived today, saying, “Please be assured that the directors are always mindful of their fiduciary duties to act in the best interests of shareholders as a whole.”

As the law stands, that means the directors must accept the highest bid. In effect, the law recognises only the short term interest in a pile of instant cash and not the long term interest of companies or the national interest.

I’m in favour of global free trade (to quote Gandhi out of context, it would be a good idea) but there is an imbalance that is seeing British companies being bought and British companies not doing any buying.

What’s left? It’s hard to see. Whatever there is, it seems the City has announced a garage sale, in which directors will do very well, pension funds – the major shareholders – will get short term boosts, the workers’ security will be threatened and the national interest will again be ignored. And the government supports this state of affairs.

Even companies not under threat are fleeing these Islands. BAE Systems is reported to be considering moving its domicile to the US and to be supported in this by the government.

In France they expect their industry to demonstrate economic patriotism. Is it too much to expect some of that over here?

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