Ineos boss Sir Jim Ratcliffe brands competition watchdog ‘hostile’

The regulator blocked Ineos’s move to buy a concrete additives business from Swiss group Sika for around 1 billion US dollars (£790 million).

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has launched a stinging attack on the UK competition watchdog, branding it “aggressive” and “hostile” to British business.

The billionaire boss of chemicals giant Ineos, who is currently in the running to buy Manchester United football club, lashed out after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) sought to block a takeover deal by the firm.

The regulator blocked Ineos’s move to buy a concrete additives business from Swiss group Sika for around one billion US dollars (£790 million) earlier this year.

Sika scrapped the deal in March after receiving “provisional negative feedback” from the CMA over competition worries and ultimately sold the assets to US private equity firm Cinven.

On Tuesday, the businessman, who is worth almost £30 billion according to the Sunday Times Rich List, argued that the watchdog and Government should take a “much more positive approach” to such deals to support the UK’s manufacturing sector.

Sunday Times Rich List
Sir Jim Ratcliffe is currently attempting to buy Manchester United (Peter Byrne/PA)

Mr Ratcliffe said: “The CMA and UK Government are becoming increasingly hostile to business.

“This is yet another example of a deal being stopped that would benefit the UK and handed over to the Americans, who were absolutely delighted.

“Add to this, the ridiculous North Sea windfall tax and continuing high energy costs and we are seeing a Government that is driving business out of the UK.

“The CMA is building a reputation as an overly aggressive regulator with little regard for the impact of its decisions on UK business.

“Its attitude is mirrored in the lack of Government support for manufacturing; whether in reviews such as this, or in our uncompetitive approach to energy policy.”

The billionaire has become the latest to criticize the CMA, months after games giant Activision Blizzard labelled Britain as “closed for business” after the regulator stopped its proposed takeover by Microsoft.

A CMA spokesman said: “When we conclude a deal can go ahead subject to part of a merged business being sold, we assess, among other criteria, whether potential buyers could lead to further competition problems.

“It is critical when approving a potential buyer that we don’t allow new competition problems to develop.

“We note that Ineos is one of only three major suppliers of a key product that Sika and its competitors rely on.”

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