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New takeover policy

RULES over corporate takeovers have been relaxed.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has released an expanded policy on takeover relief that aims to give bidders, targets and holders certainty in complying with the Corporations Act.

Significant changes include:

Clarifying that a partly-paid share is in the same class as a fully-paid share;

companies that enter into listing rule escrows with holders. Case-by-case relief for companies or underwriters that enter into voluntary escrows with holders;

Re-affirming ASIC’s policy that a company that contrives a rights issue or underwriting so that a person obtains control of the company without making a takeover bid risks an application to the Takeovers Panel for a declaration of unacceptable circumstances;

Case-by-case relief allowing a bidder to exercise options it has acquired under a takeover bid for the options; and

Class order relief so that employee share scheme securities that are non-transferable can be compulsorily acquired.

Copies of the policy statement (PS159 Takeovers: Discretionary Powers) can be downloaded from ASIC’s website at www.asic.gov.au or obtained by phoning 1300 300 630.

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