Blair Makes Call for Vodafone ; PM Presses German Chancellor over Bid for Mannesmann
Dan Gledhill And Clare Francis, The Independent (London, England)
TONY BLAIR last night asked the German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroder, to tone down his anti-Vodafone rhetoric in an attempt to defuse the growing political row over the UK company's bid for Mannesmann.
The Prime Minister made the request at a dinner in Florence The previous day, Mr Schroder criticised Vodafone's pounds 77bn bid, echoing the stern resistance from Mannesmann and union leaders to the record-breaking hostile bid .
Mr Schroder said on Friday: "Hostile takeovers destroy a company's culture. They harm the target but also the predator itself in the medium term. I much prefer French-German co-operation because it is amicable."
The comments have angered both political and business leaders as they reinforce the idea that Europe is anti-British.
Chris Gent, chief executive of Vodafone, has been keeping the Prime Minister informed of the progress of the bid. At a breakfast meeting last week, Mr Blair gave Mr Gent his full backing for the bid.
But that has put Britain on a collision course with Germany, which remains reluctant to countenance foreign ownership of domestic companies even though two of Britain's mobile phone companies - Orange and One2One - have succumbed to German bids this year. No German company has ever been taken over as a result of a hostile foreign bid.
Although Vodafone has insisted that no jobs will be lost should its bid succeed, Mr Schroder remains acutely aware of the fears of German unions. Demonstrations against the bid took place in Mannesmann's home town of Dusseldorf on Friday, where 800 workers protested against Vodafone's move. Mannesmann has denied that it is behind the demonstrations, maintaining that its fate should be decided by shareholders.
Calls for the Prime Minister's …
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Publication information: Article title: Blair Makes Call for Vodafone ; PM Presses German Chancellor over Bid for Mannesmann. Contributors: Dan Gledhill And Clare Francis - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: November 21, 1999. Page number: 1. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.