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French Agency Trims Threshold for Required Public Offer to 30%

The stake an investor can accumulate in a company before having to make an offer for all of its shares will be cut to 30 percent from one-third, France’s financial regulator said. The agency will also expand the types of securities that make up that stake.

The Autorite des Marches Financiers will incorporate changes to France’s financial code, passed by the government in October and due to take effect Feb. 1, into its regulations, according to a statement on the regulator’s website.

France has sought to tighten financial regulations after loose rules were blamed in part for the financial crisis. The new law aimed to address the gaps by adding shares acquired through indirect means like derivatives, and strengthening disclosure rules.

The French law added a grandfather clause, backdating the new threshold to Jan. 1. Investors holding a stake between 30 percent and one-third, if they still hold at least 30 percent at Feb. 1, would have to make a bid or cut its stake below 30 percent. Any offer would have to be based on the highest share price for the 12 months prior to the threshold being breached.

The AMF asked for comments on the proposed changes to its regulations before Jan. 5, 2011.

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