(Updates with details, quotes, background.)
By Toby Sterling
AMSTERDAM, March 7 Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen
Dijsselbloem said on Tuesday the government should set up a
panel with the power to block takeovers by foreign companies
that were contrary to the national interest.
Many of the country's largest companies did not have the
wherewithal to thwart unwanted takeovers, he added during
campaigning for his Labour party ahead of a national election on
"Aggressive takeovers such as what was in danger of
happening with Unilever, I think are a true threat to the future
earnings capacity of the Netherlands," Dijsselbloem said.
The minister was referring to Kraft Heinz' surprise offer
for the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company last
Nationalist sentiment has been on the rise in the
Netherlands ahead of the election in which the far-right party
led by Geert Wilders, who advocates protectionist economic
policies, is seen performing strongly.
Polls show Wilders' Party for Freedom (PVV) will more than
double its seats in parliament to 26, almost even with Prime
Minister Mark Rutte's conservatives who stand to tumble from 41
to 27, with his coalition partner Labour plunging to 14 from 38.
Dijsselbloem's Labour party, the junior member in Rutte's
center-right coalition, is on course to lose about two-thirds of
Last month the government proposed a law giving it power to
block takeovers in the telecommunications sector.
Dijsselbloem said on Tuesday such powers should be expanded
to include all "strategically important" companies, and the
country should establish a panel like the Committee on Foreign
Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
Last year CFIUS blocked Philips from selling most
of its LED components manufacturing business to a Chinese-led
consortium for $2.8 billion. Philips eventually sold the same
stake to U.S. private equity firm Apollo Global Management for
Dijsselbloem said that Dutch firms were attractive because
they are cash rich.
"That makes them very good prey because (a buyer) can first
strip the cash and then sell the parts." he said.
"This is not a theory I'm describing, this really happens and
it's in danger of happening again."
The Dutch state was burned by the 2007 hostile takeover and
carve-up of ABN Amro bank, whose operations in the Netherlands
it was forced to bail out less than a year later.
Last month Belgium's Bpost dropped its pursuit of
PostNL under pressure from Dutch economic affairs
minister Henk Kamp, a VVD politician.
Dijsselbloem said 11 of the 25 largest Dutch companies with
a stock market listing lacked sufficient takeover protections.
"Don't dare me to name them and thereby stick a 'for sale'
sign in their gardens," he said. "My warning is that we must be
able to protect Dutch industry."
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; editing by John Stonestreet and