Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2014

Center/Program

Center for Contract and Economic Organization

Center/Program

Center for Law and Economic Studies

Abstract

Takeover regulation should neither hamper nor promote takeovers, but instead allow individual companies to decide the contestability of their control. Based on this premise, we advocate a takeover law exclusively made of default and menu rules supporting an effective choice of the takeover regime at the company level. For political economy reasons, we argue that different default rules should apply to newly public companies and companies that are already public when the new regime is introduced. Newly public companies should be governed by default rules that favor the interests of (minority) shareholders over those of management and controlling shareholders, because these are more efficient on average and easier to opt out of when they are or become inefficient for the particular company. Companies that are already public when the new regime is introduced should instead be governed by default rules matching the status quo, even if this favors the incumbents. This regulatory dualism strategy is intended to overcome the resistance of vested interests towards efficient regulatory change. Appropriate menu rules should be available to both groups of companies in order to ease opt-out of unfit defaults. Finally, we argue that European takeover law should be reshaped along these lines. Particularly, the board neutrality rule and the mandatory bid rule should become defaults that only individual companies, rather than member states, can opt out of The overhauled Takeover Directive should also include menu rules, for instance a poison pill defense and a time-based breakthrough rule. Existing companies would continue to be governed by the status quo until incumbents decide to opt into the new regime.

Comments

The copyright in the Business Law Review is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College, and the copyright in the article is held by the author.

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