Government gets tough on shareholders

Shareholders who build up a stake of 3% in a stock exchange-listed company will have to declare whether or not they support management policy, if draft legislation published by the finance ministry on Friday gets approval.

The simple yes/no statement is one of a package of measures the government is introducing to encourage long-term shareholding and combat the over-influence of activist shareholders, the Financieele Dagblad reports on Saturday.
At the moment, shareholders are required to register their interest in a company when their stake reaches 5% but they do not have to declare their intentions. Engineering group Stork and chip machinery maker ASMI are among the Dutch companies which have come under attack from activist shareholders.

Longer term

The cabinet also plans to take steps to stimulate shareholders to go for long-term profits and avoid risky financial constructions. ‘The credit crisis has made it clear to the cabinet that blindly striving for shareholder value has put companies, banks in particular, in difficulty,’ the paper says.
Companies will also be able to ask for the names and addresses of every shareholder in run up to AGMs, even if they own just one share.
The shareholders lobby group VEB told the Volkskrant it opposed the idea of making all shareholders declare themselves because it conflicted with the right to privacy.

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