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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 3. 1965.

Takeover Again

page 9

Takeover Again

The Mercantile Gazette's allegations referred to in the last issue have been apparently confirmed in the address of the Dominion's chairman to shareholders dated 15th December, 1964:

"Approximately a year ago an initial approach was made by the Thomson organisation and pressure of events continued for about four month."

This would date the Thomson offer at late November, 1963.

News of the offer became public about the beginning of February, 1964, and the outcome of the various bids was in no doubt by the end of March.

Thus the Thomson bid was known to the Dominion board for some two months before the actual takeover offer had to be considered by shareholders, before the cries for government assistance were publicly made. What can we think of a board which had this time to consider and plan their strategy? Here is what the Mercantile Gazette said:

"On the assumption that they (the Dominion board) were aware of outside buying of the shares, why did they not take some action along the lines already taken by the New Zealand Insurance Co Ltd or the South British Insurance Co Ltd or even by Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd several years ago?

"Each of the three companies mentioned above had to act to prevent the threat of overseas ownership.

"It was done without recourse to open Government intervention and in each case overseas ownership would have been of much greater economic consequence than overseas ownership of the Dominion."

As a final wistful note—a reminder that the big bad wolf took some beating—the following comment makes amusing reading. (It appears to have been omitted from newspaper versions of the chairman's address.)

"During the intensive period of the takeovers much time and considerable expense, both legal and otherwise, were incurred. Directors suffered disruptions of their normal occupations for a prolonged period. On the advice of our solicitors and in conformity with the Articles of Association, the Board resolved that they be recompensed for these unusual circumstances, and this has been done."—H.B.R.