ASMI erects takeover defences

The conflict between chip machinery maker ASMI and activist shareholders entered a new phase on Thursday as a foundation set up to protect the company’s independence bought 29.9% of the company’s voting rights.

When added to the shares held by founder Arthur del Prado, this provides a majority shareholding which can be used to block the demands of the activists.
Their demands include the sacking of chairman Chuck del Prado and five supervisory board members, and the sale of the poorly-performing front-end unit.
‘We consider this development to be extremely threatening [to the company’s future],’ said the foundation in Thursday’s Financieele Dagblad.
The decision by the foundation was reached without any pressure from Del Prado although the board and management board had been consulted, its chairman Michiel van Galen said in the paper. ‘We are independent and have exercised our responsibilities,’ he was quoted as saying.
The Financieele Dagblad also reports that ASMI is prepared split itself into two if it fails to make its front-end division profitable by 2010. It has also pledged to bring its corporate governance practises into line with the official Tabaksblat committee recommendations.
Last year, industrial group Stork issued preferential shares to a foundation to ward off a hostile takeover bid but was forced to revoke them following a court ruling.

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