Takeover Panel prepares Code review response

A PRIVATE put-up-or-shut-up deadline is the most likely significant proposal to come out of the consultation on proposed changes to the Takeover Code, according to M&A experts.

The Takeover Panel’s response to the consultation – sparked by controversy over Kraft’s takeover of Cadbury earlier this year – is due in the next couple of weeks, while a government review into the code is also underway. They aim to examine whether it is too easy for foreign companies to snap up British firms under the UK’s regime, currently the most open in the world.

However, the consensus at a MergerMarket briefing event yesterday – where speakers included ex-Cadbury chairman Roger Carr, Slaughter & May partner Stephen Cooke, Herbert Smith partner David Paterson and Morgan Stanley managing director Suniti Chauhan – concluded some suggestions put forward would be either too difficult to implement or verging on protectionism.

They include increasing the acceptance threshold, disenfranchising shares held by short-term investors, and allowing state intervention.

More likely would be a private put-up-or-shut-up deadline before the bid is made public, or a shortening of the takeover period.