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Eumedion welcomes moves on changes to shareholder voting

NETHERLANDS - Eumedion, the Dutch foundation for corporate governance issues, which is supported by pension funds, says that its members will follow the strategy whereby though shares are loaned the pension funds will keep their voting rights.

This option became possible only last week, when the Eerste Kamer, the Dutch Senate, approved a change in the law on this matter. The new provisions give companies the power to push back the registration date of shareholding for annual general meetings of shareholders.

This can now be up to 30 days before the general meeting instead of the former seven days. Only shareholders who are on the register for this period will be able to vote at the meeting.

Eumedion believes that the changes will have several positive effects. In particular, most shareholders are not voting because they have loaned out their shares in the seven days before the general meeting. As a result of the change, investors will now be able to take part in the voting.

Another effect of the change, will be to curb the groups wanting to accumulate the required volumes of shares to effect changes at the general meetings. Such moves will now become more difficult and will give the opponents of these moves more time to react.

Eumedion has also been involved in the discussions about the ‘golden share' structures to help prevent unwelcome take-overs of listed companies. This follows a move in parliament, where both the Labour Party and the Christian Democrats voted for an amendment to current legislation requiring companies to discuss with their shareholders any arrangements involving golden shares and structures on shareholdings.

Eumedion has reacted by saying that the amendment prevents the necessary level of transparency. It wants more transparent information to be available to shareholders about any golden share and similar arrangement.

The comments by Eumedion are against the background of the struggle for control at the Dutch corporate Stork, where hedge funds are battling with the board.

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