April 19, 2018 / 6:45 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Dutch government wants power to vet telecoms deals

(Updates with details, background.)

AMSTERDAM, April 19 (Reuters) - The Dutch cabinet on Thursday proposed a law that would require any group wishing to try to take over a Netherlands-based telecommunications company to first seek government approval.

The proposed “Law on Undesired Control of Telecommunications” would apply to telephone, internet, website hosting and data center companies, the Cabinet said in a statement.

The proposal echoes political determination to protect Dutch companies from foreign takeovers after a series of failed attempts in recent years, notably Dulux paint-maker Akzo Nobel’s rejection last year of a bid from U.S. rival PPG , which the government said was not in the national interest.

“The Netherlands profits greatly from an open economy,” said deputy economics minister Mona Keijzer in a statement. “But the cabinet wants to prevent unreliable, non-transparent or criminal companies from hurting our national safety.”

On Wednesday, former state telecom KPN named its first foreign CEO, the Italian-Colombian former head of Wind Tre, Maximo Ibarra, who vowed to continue the company’s current strategy.

Five years ago an attempted takeover of KPN by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim was thwarted after an independent foundation issued shares to prevent him gaining control — a common takeover defense mechanism at Dutch companies.

In the same statement, Keijzer noted that the government is also preparing reforms to the country’s Universal Postal Carrier Law to include requirements for a Dutch head office and unspecified infrastructure investments.

In December 2016, Dutch post company PostNL rejected a takeover offer from Belgium’s Bpost, citing in part government opposition. (Reporting by Toby Sterling Editing by Keith Weir)

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