Finance minister cools on takeover manager

Finance minister Wouter Bos told MPs on Tuesday that he did not yet plan to set up a new independent body to supervise takeover bids.

In a letter to parliament Bos said he would wait until the implementation of new takeover guidelines before deciding whether a ‘market manager’ was necessary.
Those guidelines, which give financial services watchdog AFM the right to formally approve bids, were passed by the upper house of parliament on Tuesday. Before a market manager was set up, the AFM should first be allowed to settle into its new role, Bos said.
Several weeks ago, Bos said the takeover struggle surrounding ABN Amro showed shortcomings in the current rules and that he would look into setting up a new supervisory body.
Critics said the situation around ABN Amro was chaotic because neither the AFM nor the courts had enough powers to manage the process properly.
Bos also commented in the letter on the takeover of ABN Amro, describing the controversial sale of its LaSalle operations as a ‘complicating factor’. But the battle for ABN Amro was not so much due to ‘activist shareholders’ as to all the different banks competing for parts of the Dutch group, he said.
ABN Amro has agreed to be taken over by Barclays and to sell LaSalle to Bank of America, but a rival consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland is also after the Dutch group, and wants LaSalle to be part of the package.
Bos is required by law to approve the eventual takeover of ABN Amro.

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