NETHERLANDS - Dutch shareholders associations VEB and NCVB have announced plans to merge operations and operate under the name VEB NCVB.

The new organisation will have 40,000 members, among which are several large Dutch pension funds and pensions organisations, as well as 500 investor clubs.

According to a joint statement, the two organisations believe a merger would enable them to be stronger in future activism.

Jan Maarten Slagter, recently appointed director at VEB, said "the NCVB and the VEB focus on the same target group, and represent the same interests," and added he thinks the new combined group will be more relevant to a large group of Dutch investors who want a non-commercial partner.

Slagter will remain director of the combined group and the new supervisory board will comprise of current members from both the NCVB and the VEB boards.

This combined group is scheduled to be launched from November 28 at an investors conference at the Amsterdam RAI.

This development comes after a turbulent 18 months for the VEB, which has acted in several high profile Dutch shareholder meetings at companies ranging from ABN Amro to Shell and Ahold, while occasionally coming under scrutiny for aggressive activism.

Last July, VEB argued ABN Amro's planned sale of its subsidiary LaSalle to Bank of America effectively blocked a higher €71bn bid from RBS and its partners, Spain's Santander and Belgium's Fortis, against rivalling Barclays, as their offer hinged on LaSalle not being sold.

A Dutch commercial court initially ruled in favour of the shareholders' group, preventing the LaSalle transaction from completing, but the advocate-general disagreed and the Supreme Court upheld his view.

Peter Paul de Vries, the previous head of VEB, shortly afterwards accused ABN Amro of having launched a smear campaign against him. De Vries subsequently stepped down in October.

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