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Wellknown Dutch names dropped from listing at the stock exchange

Van Melle and Norit already gone

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

AMSTERDAM - The push towards larger commercial entities in the European Union EU, itself an example of economical expansion larger scales of economy, also has consequences for the survival - at the stock market - of listed medium-sized businesses in the Netherlands.

Delisting often is the result of mergers and buyouts. Shares in the absorbed company are fully acquired by the new owners, who may retain the ‘old’ company’s trade name, which then has no stock value and becomes a ‘shell’.

Among those recently delisted is century-old candy-maker Van Melle. The Breda-based company is best known for its brandnames Mentos and Fruitella. The Dutch market for a long time already had been too small, but to tackle the world was something else. The confectionery now is owned by Perfetti of Italy and no longer needs to raise its own capital.

Eighty-year old Norit - maker of upset-stomach remedies and other carbon-based medicinal products - long struggled with depressed share values and had become the possible target of a hostile takeover. It sought protection with a Dutch energy company but in the process lost its own destiny. Technical bureau GTI, a company founded in 1801, also was pulled from the market by its new Belgian owners.

Textile maker Blydenstein-Willink, founded in 1803, has survived its downsizing industry sector but expects to make one more change when it drops its stock market listing. Analysts suggest that other Dutch venerables such as pottery maker Porceleyne Fles, one of the oldest continuing businesses in the country, rubber producer Helvoet and publisher Royal Brill all will end up in the danger zone.

The merger of by the stock markets of Paris, Amster-dam and Brussels (into Euronext) and increasingly tougher regulations and reporting burden is prompting other wellknown businesses to look elsewhere for financing.

Euronext officials view the trend as logical. They feel that there should be ongoing trade in shares to have an effective listing. When such activity drops below ten transaction a day, trading no longer is ‘ongoing’. One in seven to ten listings - among them some very old Dutch firms - reportedly are in this endangered business category.