By Simon Johnson
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden plans to tighten its rules to enable the government to block takeovers of important firms by foreign companies amid increasing concerns over the threat to national security from China and Russia.
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has heightened fears that hard-hit Swedish companies could be easy prey to foreign investors looking to gain access to cutting-edge technology or firms linked to crucial infrastructure.
“Sweden will continue to be a country that is very attractive for foreign investors,” Home Affairs Minister Mikael Damberg told Reuters. “But there are areas where we see a need to protect businesses in Sweden.”
He said the government hoped to put forward a bill to give it greater powers to stop takeovers after the summer.
While Damberg said the tighter rules were not aimed at any specific country, the move comes against a backdrop of growing international concerns over Russian and Chinese influence.
“If you ask what the threat picture looks like today, then naturally, it is two countries, according to the security police’s report, that are easy to identify, and that is the People’s Republic of China and the Russian