Government influence on state holdings less than intended under government policy

Government holds shares in 37 companies; annual dividend of €3 to 5 billion

The Dutch government has been saying since 2007 that it wishes to be an active shareholder and manage the public capital in the companies in which it has a shareholding in the public interest. The preconditions necessary for active shareholdership, however, are not always in place. As a result, the government’s influence on the companies is less than it would like. The articles of association of 11 companies do not require the shareholder to approve major investments. Shareholder approval is required at Dutch Rail and Schiphol Airport but the threshold value is so high that the state will seldom formally receive an investment proposal for approval. The minister’s assessment of major investment proposals pays insufficient attention to the financial consequences, risks and uncertainties, even though the return on public capital is a matter of public interest. The cabinet has not been informed of decisions on major investment proposed by state holdings in recent years.