Freehills pushes for takeover shake-up

Australian firm Freehills is lobbying the federal government to change company law in relation to corporate takeovers.
On 5 August, Freehills M&A partner Justin Mann-olini sent a submission to Senator Ian Campbell, Parl-iamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, outlining 10 areas of reform relating to takeover laws. Campbell is in charge of the government’s rolling review of audit regulation and corporate disclosure.
Mannolini has called for the abolishment of court involvement in any merger between two solvent companies. “To enhance the efficiency of the scheme process to effect combinations of solvent companies, the requirement for court approval should be removed from the Corporations Act,” Mannolini said in the submission.
It was also suggested that the Takeover Panel should have the power to give private rulings. Currently, the panel can only determine applications for declarations of unacceptable circumstances after the event.
However, Mannolini suggested that “to facilitate certainty for market participants, parties should be permitted to approach the panel on a confidential basis to apply for a binding determination on the existence, or otherwise, of unacceptable circumstances”.
The submission also targeted a number of other changes, including facilitating pre-bid acceptances and mandating equal access for bidders to target information.