The EU's 13th Directive on Takeover Bids
In the late 1990s, the United States boomed in the context of the so-called New Economy. The countries of the European Union--despite their progress with integration in the form of the Single Market 1992 program and the adoption of a single currency in January 1999--appeared to languish behind the United States, and they looked for ways to stimulate faster growth. Many observers pointed to the need for structural reform and, in particular, the creation of American-style deep and liquid continentwide capital markets that would act as the catalyst for managerial change. By subjecting incumbent managers to the pressure of hostile takeovers, greater discipline and improved efficiency would result. However, hostile takeovers were anathema to the bank-centered systems of corporate governance typical of continental Europe in general and Germany in particular. The EU Commission introduced a draft takeover directive in 1989. After a tortuous process through the labyrinthine corridors of many European institutions, the directive was ultimately rejected on the basis of a tied vote in the European Parliament. This rejection had been engineered by the German Christian Democrats--a supposedly right-of-center party supported by German business.
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- 2002 HBS
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