EDITORIAL: Take heed over EU hostile bids plans

The threat of a power shift from shareholders to company boards over the issue of takeovers is being debated by MEPs as PRWeek goes to press.

The threat of a power shift from shareholders to company boards over the issue of takeovers is being debated by MEPs as PRWeek goes to press.

For the financial PR community the most pressing concern is that if the legislation goes through, hostile takeover bids could be rendered almost obsolete.

Some MEPs believe it is an important step in improving competitiveness.

But amendments including a proposal to allow a target company to take frustrating action against a bid without consulting shareholders would, in effect, negate the directive's aim.

Any changes could also spell an end to PR-heavy mergers, like last year's takeover of German mobile phone group Mannesmann by Vodafone AirTouch - the continent's largest cross-border deal and the first hostile bid for a major German company. It would also create an uneven playing field between Europe and the rest of the world in an increasingly globalised market.

The proposals may seem far fetched and illogical but it wouldn't be the first time Strasbourg has sought to implement a law that, as Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein says, would 'throw away more than ten years of work'.

Even if the bill is not passed in its present form FPRs should take note of a potential backlash against shareholder power and not be caught on the back foot the next time the issue arises.



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