This is rather fun:
The two leading power companies have quietly shifted ownership of their British operations into offshore companies to protect against Jeremy Corbyn’s threat of cut-price nationalisation, The Sunday Times can reveal.
National Grid and SSE, which together own Britain’s entire gas and electricity transmission spine, this weekend confirmed they had created overseas holding companies in recent months to seek shelter from Labour’s renationalisation agenda. SSE has put its UK business into a new Swiss holding company; National Grid has shifted its gas and electricity businesses into new subsidiaries in Luxembourg and Hong Kong.
The moves are designed to build defences against Labour’s sweeping renationalisation plans. Switzerland, Luxembourg and Hong Kong have “bilateral investment treaties” with the UK that ensure investors are paid properly in the event of any state asset grab.
It means that Labour can go and buy the grid, certainly. But that it must pay full market price for it. None of this “Parliament will decide the price” stuff will work. Because the price must be, by that international law, the full market price. Can’t go around saying the book value of the assets, or that minus the dividends investors have received – both ideas that have been floated – and the idea that they can be bought simply with an issuance of gilts is also pretty dodgy.
And, of course, this is why we have investor treaties and that investor state dispute settlement system – ISDS – in the first place. So that governments can’t rip people off.