Eleven of the 25 top Amsterdam bourse-listed companies are effectively for sale as they are so poorly protected from takeovers by non-Dutch companies, finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem warned during a Labour PvdA party campaign press conference on Tuesday.
Dijsselbloem used the recent failed attempts to acquire PostNL and Anglo-Dutch foods to detergents group Unilever by foreign companies as cases in point, the Financieele Dagblad said on Wednesday.
Large Dutch companies frequently have big cash reserves, but put little effort into investment and growth. Therefore they are attractive prey for predators, the minister warned. He said he was ‘very concerned’, adding that 43% of all 95 listed companies in the Netherlands are insufficiently protected against foreign takeovers.
Dijsselbloem did not use the word protectionism, but said the Netherlands should not be naive and that the country should protect its stategic economic interests.
He warned that Dutch companies should shake off their lethargy and invest more in innovation and growth.
Buyers will move in if shareholders are dissatisfied, Dijsselbloem said. He added that economic affairs minister Henk Kamp’s proposal to protect strategically important Dutch companies should be extended. At present only the telecoms sector is protected, he said.
Dijsselbloem suggsted that foreign takeover attempts be referred to a government body for approval similar to the committee on foreign investment in the US. And he said corporate works councils should also be given a chance to voice their opinion, the FD said.
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