NETHERLANDS - A consultation paper on corporate governance, hedge funds and private equity could ease pressures on shareholders' responsibilities, but still is unclear as to what constitutes ‘acting in concert', according to Eumedion.
Rients Abma, executive director at the Dutch platform for institutional investors, told IPE today the new consultation put forward by the Dutch ministry of finance last week still does not explain what ‘acting in concert' means.
"Shareholders are already confronted with this problem when they have to report a 3% stake, down from 5% previously," he said, adding now shareholders are confronted an earlier stage with the question of whether cooperation with fellow shareholders constitutes 'acting in concert'.
Moreover, the right of shareholders to put forward agenda points has been restricted from a 1% threshold to 3% - an unwelcome development, according to Eumedion.
However, this latest consultation paper does provide some improvements compared with earlier proposals, said Abma. (See earlier IPE story: SER's inquiry right shift "damages shareholders")
"Under the new proposals, large shareholders only have to reveal their intentions if they have a stake of 10%, whereas at first this was set at 3%," he outlined.
That said, Eumedion is still of the opinion this obligation will not contribute to "the desired realisation of a fruitful dialogue between a shareholder and the company".
Eumedion also welcomes proposals suggesting shareholders will not be forced to reveal 1% increments after the first 3% of shares, and the fact that shareholders will be able to communicate, albeit indirectly, with fellow-shareholders.
"The changes lead to fewer administrative burdens for shareholders," said Abma.
He added his organisation will continue to look critically at other points in the consultation.
Proposals to create a corporate governance code is the next step in the government's reaction to the recommendations of the so-called Commission Frijns, a corporate governance monitoring commission lead by former ABP Investments chief Jean Frijns.
The government has asked stakeholders to react to the consultation before February 14.
Dutch activity concerning shareholder action follows similar moves mate last year by the German government to pass a disputed bill for more transparency of investments in the German market.
The bill, which includes measures against collaborative actions against investors, so-called 'acting in concert", was criticised by UK pension fund manager Hermes, Eumedion as well as various German investment associations as detrimental to foreign investments. (See earlier IPE story: German cabinet passes acting in concert bill)
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