Under the Enterprise Act 2002, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has the power to intervene in mergers on public interest grounds relating to national security. This responsibility is discharged in a quasi-judicial capacity, which means that the Secretary of State must act, and be seen to act, in a scrupulously fair and impartial manner.
On 20 December 2019, acting on official advice, the Secretary of State issued a public interest intervention notice, confirming that she is intervening in the merger on national security grounds. In reaching this decision, she considered the representations received from the Secretary of State for Defence.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will prepare a report on the jurisdictional, competition and national security aspects of the proposed transaction, which must be submitted to the Secretary of State by midnight on 17 March 2020.