Ministers want Musk to attend flagship investment summit

By John Mercury August 22, 2023

The government is courting Elon Musk, the Tesla billionaire and owner of the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, to attend a flagship business summit in the autumn as they seek to bolster Britain’s claim to be a leading magnet for overseas investment.

Sky News has learnt that Rishi Sunak’s administration is keen to secure the attendance of Mr Musk at the Global Investment Summit (GIS) in late November.

Whitehall sources suggested Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was also likely to be invited.

It was unclear on Tuesday whether a formal invitation had been issued yet to either man, although other major investors in the British economy have told Sky News that they have already been asked to attend on 29 November.

The government claims the inaugural GIS, held in October 2021, secured £9.7bn of new foreign investment, creating over 30,000 new jobs “and supporting growth in vital sectors such as wind and hydrogen energy, sustainable homes, and carbon capture and storage”.

Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, and Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JP Morgan Chase, were among those who attended the 2021 event.

One government official said there was a particular desire to persuade Mr Musk to attend this year because of the maverick entrepreneur’s meetings earlier this year with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss potential Tesla investments in the country.

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A spokesman for the Department for Business and Trade declined to comment on individual delegates but said: “We look forward to welcoming around 200 CEOs and the world’s A-list investors to the second Global Investment Summit in November, to showcase why the UK is a top destination for international investment.

“Hosted by the PM and Business and Trade Secretary [Kemi Badenoch], attendees will hear first-hand how the government intends to build upon the competitive business environment that makes the UK one of the world’s most attractive investment destinations. 

“The Summit will drive investment into all corners of the UK, creating real benefits for local businesses and communities including economic growth and jobs.”

Originally slated for October, the summit was delayed by several weeks as a result of scheduling issues.

Sources say it will be held at a “historic location” close to central London.

They added this year’s event would aim to highlight British successes in areas including life sciences, deep tech, nuclear fusion and small modular reactors.

It would also seek to demonstrate that capital investment in Britain was being unlocked by post-Brexit financial liberalisation measures included in the ‘Edinburgh reforms’ outlined by the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, earlier this year.

The event will be held during a fragile period for perceptions of the UK as an investment destination, with car manufacturers including the Vauxhall-owner Stellantis having recently warned of potential factory closures because of post-Brexit rules.

Sir James Dyson, the founder of the eponymous electrical goods brand, has been an outspoken critic of government policy, warning that the ambition of becoming a science and technology superpower had been reduced “to a political slogan”.

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