Takeover Defenses in Europe: A Comparative, Theoretical and Policy Analysis

40 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2014 Last revised: 7 Feb 2015

See all articles by Klaus J. Hopt

Klaus J. Hopt

Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Date Written: December 1, 2014


The European Directive on Takeover Bids of 2004 must be revised on the basis of experience gained in the five years of its application. On the basis of a legal and economic examination carried out by Marccus Partners and the Centre for European Policy Studies, the European Commission published an Application Report on 26 June 2012 on which the European Parliament in its Resolution of 21 May 2013 responded favorably. This has provoked very controversial economic and policy discussions in various Member States and beyond. This article carries out a comparative, theoretical and policy analysis of European takeover law, incorporating not only the Thirteenth Directive but also path dependent commonalities and differences between takeover law in the Member States as regards the European market for corporate control. The main point of dispute is the prohibition of frustrating action. The idea that the Board only takes account of the interests of the shareholders as regards defensive measures or an improved price (this with reference to the USA) is countered by the fear that the Board will have a serious self-interest in retaining their jobs and that this could affect their decisions and lead to their entrenchment (the position of the United Kingdom takeover regulation). It is argued that for path dependent reasons in Europe the market for corporate control has a role as a factor of external corporate governance. Takeovers do not only play a role in the allocation of resources with the consequence that capital is directed towards the place where it can be used most efficiently, but may also motivate Board members to perform better on behalf of shareholders (disciplinary mechanism). Even though there have been the improvements in (internal) corporate governance in recent decades, through the slowly growing role of institutional investors in the markets and in general meetings of shareholders, the progress has been rather limited. A functioning takeover market may still remain the most effective control mechanism.

JEL Classification: G34, G38, K22

Suggested Citation

Hopt, Klaus J., Takeover Defenses in Europe: A Comparative, Theoretical and Policy Analysis (December 1, 2014). Columbia Journal of European Law Vol. 20.2 (2014) 249-282, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2540512

Klaus J. Hopt (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law ( email )

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European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

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