"They're American asset strippers," says Kris Ruijters, head
of M&A at AKD Prinsen Van Wijmen in Amsterdam. "To their
own surprise they came to a country that looked perfectly
normal; but here, if you can get 10% of a company, you can
force the board to do unimaginable things."
Ruijters is not alone in his anger. Hedge fund TCI's
February letter to ABN Amro demanding the board adopt a
strategy of divestiture and the ensuing takeover battle for the
bank have prompted a backlash against activist shareholders:
politicians are debating the issue in the Dutch parliament; the
media is denouncing the power of the foreign investors; and
shareholder activism is the hot topic of discussion in
legal circles. At the heart of this furore lies the complaint
that Dutch companies are being dictated to by a foreign
Foreign investors make up an estimated 80%...