Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has stopped a software and technology transfer deal to China that was meant to be part of a Chinese company’s acquisition of an Italian technology firm, according to a Shanghai filing and a source close to the matter.
China-baed industrial robot maker EFORT Intelligent Equipment earlier this year announced a deal to raise its stake in Italian company ROBOX from 40% to 49%. ROBOX designs and makes electronic components for robotics and motion control systems.
The €2 million investment was meant to give EFORT access to some of ROBOX’s source codes, but Draghi’s government has blocked ROBOX from transferring the tech to China, the source said, although it raised no objections to the greater equity stake.
Italy uses its anti-takeover legislation, or so-called golden powers, to ward off undesired bids in industries deemed of strategic importance such as banking, energy, telecoms and health.
With ROBOX, Rome has used this power seven time since it was introduced in 2012, six of which targeted Chinese companies, while five were under Draghi’s government.
However, Draghi’s approach has triggered legal challenges from both foreign acquirers and their Italian targets.
The notification requirements have also increased red tape for firms, which are filing information on mergers and deals even when it would not be necessary, officials said, to avoid the risk of fines.
Last year there were almost 500 such notifications, up from 342 in 2020 and just 83 in 2019.
- Reuters, with editing by Neal McGrath