Employers’ lobby criticises shareholder power

The eventual break-up of the ABN Amro banking group would be ‘extremely worrying,’ Bernard Wientjes, head of the Dutch employers organisation VNO-NCW said in an interview with the NRC on Monday.

While employers support a liberal market economy, the Netherlands should look carefully at the way it has reduced corporate takeover defences against hostile approaches, Wientjes said.
‘We should not move in the French direction, where there is a national uprising if a foreign company threatens to buy, say, (dairy group) Danone. But we should look at whether our own climate has become too liberal,’ Wientjes said.
ABN Amro is currently embroiled in a takeover battle between Barclays, which wants to keep the group intact, and a consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland which wants to split it up.
While the Netherlands had taken steps to increase shareholder power, private equity and hedge funds had become increasingly important, Wientjes told the paper.
The cabinet should wake up to the new economic reality and work out what the Netherlands’ core business actually is, the VNO-NCW chairman said. ‘The Netherlands and the cabinet should do more to cherish corporate headquarters,’ he said. ‘Not just those of Dutch companies, but foreign firms as well.’

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