Minister sows further seeds of confusion in takeover timeout debate


Caretaker economic affairs minister Henk Kamp has added further confusion to the debate over a year-long cooling off period in the event of a hostile takeover bid for a Dutch company.

Until now it was a given that the 12-month timeout period would begin as soon as the hostile bid was mooted. This would provide the targeted company a year to seek alternatives without being put under pressure by the bidder or its own shareholders.

But Kamp added fuel to the fire on Wednesday when he suggested in parliament that the year-long cooling off period would begin only when the hostile bid had been completed, the Volkskrant reported on Thursday.

Critics say Dutch companies are already sufficiently protected and the timeout period only rewarded incompetent executives of a targeted firm.

Kamp presented parliament with a second surprise on Wednesday when he added another ‘timeout’ period to the discussion. This revolves around when a ‘normal’ shareholder becomes an ‘activist’ shareholder. It could be when that shareholder questions the remuneration policy of the company, he suggested.

Despite all the confusion, parliament was broadly in agreement with the minister’s plans. However it will be up to the new cabinet to decide on the issue.

The timeout discussion began after thwarted hostile takeover bids – for Anglo-Dutch foods and personal care group Unilever and Amsterdam-based paints and coatings group AkzoNobel – were made earlier this year.

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