(Updates with quote, background)
AMSTERDAM Feb 16 The Dutch government on
Thursday proposed legislation that would give it power to block
or undo mergers in the telecommunications sector.
The Netherlands is gearing up for a national election on
March 15 in which the ruling conservative VVD Party is facing a
strong challenge from the far-right nationalist Party for
Freedom of Geert Wilders.
In a statement, the Economic Affairs Ministry said
telecommunications, including data hosting centres and other
Internet infrastructure, was vital to national security and the
law was permissible under European Union rules.
"The Netherlands profits from the fact that we have an open
economy," said Minister Henk Kamp in a statement. "We take over
more companies abroad than vice versa."
However, the minister said "our country is not helped by
takeovers by foreign companies that are linked to criminal
activities, that are financially weak or that have a
non-transparent ownership structure."
He said the new law was needed to give a legal basis to
prevent such takeovers.
Separately, Kamp said the government was seeking further
powers over the national mail company, including insuring it
remains headquartered in the Netherlands and makes sufficient
Last month PostNL rejected a takeover offer from
Belgian rival Bpost under pressure from the Dutch
Attempts by America Movil, owned by Mexican tycoon Carlos
Slim, to take over Dutch telecom KPN in 2013 foundered as the
company took poison pill measures to prevent it.
In 2015, Britain's NCC bought Dutch cyber security
firm Fox-IT, which is responsible for securing Dutch government
communications, for 133 million euros.
Now that Britain has voted to leave the European Union, a
Dutch newspaper reported the government has sought to have parts
of Fox-IT's business ring-fenced in a division called Fox Crypto
that the Dutch government would exert considerable control over.
Those controls would include a veto right on board
appointments and right of first refusal to purchase it if it was
put up for sale.
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Michael Perry and John