UK raises national security concerns over EDF deal to buy GE unit

LONDON (Reuters) -The British government on Monday raised potential national security concerns from French state-owned utility EDF’s deal to buy General Electric’s nuclear turbine business, ordering the companies to meet certain security needs.

EDF’s bid to acquire the GE Steam Power business from the U.S. conglomerate was cleared by Britain’s antitrust regulator in May 2023 after an initial investigation.

“The Secretary of State considers that a risk to national security will arise because of the critical national security and defence capabilities relating to naval propulsion systems which are delivered through (the GE unit),” the government said.

The government considers that the order is “necessary and proportionate to mitigate the risk to national security,” the statement added.

Issuing a final order on EDF’s deal to buy the unit via a subsidiary called GEAST UK, the government asked the companies to meet physical and information security requirements and implement governance arrangements to protect sensitive information.

It said a government-appointed board observer must be placed on the board of GEAST UK to observe meetings, while also asking the companies to maintain capacity and capability in respect of critical Ministry of Defence programmes in Britain.

EDF declined to comment and GE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Muvija M in London and Ananta Agarwal in Bengaluru; Editing by Paul Simao and Grant McCool)