Shareholders of Dutch telecoms operator KPN yesterday voted not to adopt a new mechanism designed to prevent a hostile takeover, potentially leaving the company more exposed in a market undergoing increasing consolidation. Investors also threw out the ‘golden share’ which the telco purchased from the government in December 2005, after the state’s equity interest dropped below the 10% mark. The share allowed the holder to issue shares that can outnumber those of a hostile suitor in the event of a possible takeover. But shareholders also ruled against allowing the board to issue preference shares as another means to ward off an unsolicited approach. According to KPN chairman Ton Risseeuw, it was mainly US shareholders who voted against the proposal. The Netherlands’ incumbent is seen as a key target for a takeover. Its sharers have risen nearly 40% in the past 15 months.
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