Bring back the golden share, say MPs
The government should bring back the ‘golden share’ to protect important companies against undesirable foreign takeovers, according to a majority of MPs.
A golden share gives the holder veto rights in some circumstances and can be used to protect against unwanted takeovers.
Earlier this week, EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson suggested in a German newspaper that golden shares could be used to protect strategic companies. His statement is at odds with the European court of justice which has ruled against golden shares on several occasions.
The Netherlands sold its last golden share, in post company TNT, at the end of last year under pressure from the EU court. Earlier, it sold its share in telecoms firm KPN.
‘Brussels must recognise that shareholders also have a role in protecting the public interest,’ Labour (PvdA) MP Ferd Crone said. The Christian Democrats and Socialist Party also support action to protect state companies against hostile takeovers.
Free market Liberal (VVD) MP Frans Weekers, however warned against the Netherlands jumping into the ‘protectionist camp’.
In order to avoid accusations of nationalist protectionism, Mandelson suggested sharing responsibility for the use of golden shares between the commission and member states.
France and Germany are considering introducing golden shares to allow the veto of decisions at European aerospace giant EADS.
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