AkzoNobel wins Dutch political support against possible bid

Dulux paint Image copyright AkzoNobel

A possible takeover for the maker of Dulux and Hammerite paint faces growing opposition in the company's homeland.

Four Dutch provincial governments have said they oppose a takeover of AkzoNobel, fearing the impact on jobs.

It comes amid speculation that US industrial chemicals rival PPG is lining up a second offer for Akzo.

Akzo rejected a $22bn (£18bn) offer from PPG on 9 March, saying that the bid substantially undervalued the business.

Analysts expect PPG to return soon with a fresh offer, and the Bloomberg news agency reported on Monday that the US company was preparing the details.

But the mounting Dutch political opposition underlines the uphill struggle PPG could face.

In a joint statement published on Monday, the four provinces of Gelderland, Overijssel, Groningen and Zuid Holland - where Akzo has its biggest research and development facilities as well as several factories - said they expected a new proposal from PPG and that they would oppose it.

"This takeover would put 5,000 jobs at risk in the provinces," the four provincial governors said. "Akzo belongs in the provinces."

Akzo also has operations in the UK. A 110m-euro Dulux paint factory in Ashington, Northumbria, is about to begin production and the company is investing in a new research facility.

Earlier this month, Dutch Economic Affairs Minister Henk Kamp of the governing VVD Party - known as the most pro-business party in the country - said a PPG takeover would not be "in the interest of the Netherlands".

'Protective measures'

That was shortly before elections on 15 March in which national identity and anti-foreign sentiment played a prominent role. The VVD Party is now expected to lead a new government.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem of the Netherlands' left-leaning Labour party (PvdA) has called for expanding a proposed law giving the national government power to block telecommunications sector takeovers to include all industries.

The country's main employers' association, the VNO-NCW, said in a statement before the election it did not want "new far-reaching protective measures by the government".

However, chairman Hans de Boer said the organisation was "concerned" about proposals to take over AkzoNobel and an offer in February by Kraft Heinz for Unilever, which was also rejected.

"The buying parties may pose a threat to the unique position Dutch companies hold at the forefront of sustainability and long term value creation," he said.

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