* Change would better protect companies from hostile bids
* Proposal would bring Canada more in line with U.S.
* Quebec plans a more far-reaching plan
TORONTO, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Canadian securities regulators want to change the rules on takeover defenses to make it more difficult for hostile bidders to buy Canadian companies, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The plan being floated would allow companies to keep “poison pill” defenses in place almost indefinitely, greatly enhancing their protection against unwanted suitors, according to the Globe and Mail, which cited sources it did not identify.
Poison pills effectively raise the price of a hostile takeover by enabling shareholders to buy additional stock in the target company at a discount. Existing Canadian rules limit their use to between 40 to 70 days while the company looks for a “white knight” to make a friendly acquisition offer.
The new proposal, which would bring Canadian rules more in line with those in the United States, comes in response to growing concerns in Canada about foreign control of domestic companies.
The Canadian Securities Administrators, an umbrella group representing provincial regulators, is expected to present a draft policy in mid March, said Mark Dickey, a spokesman for the Alberta regulator, which currently heads the rotating leadership of the CSA. He declined further comment.
The CSA will hold public consultations before implementing any changes, the newspaper said.
Quebec’s provincial regulator plans to release a more far-reaching proposal at the same time, Louis Morisset, the superintendent of securities markets in Quebec, said in a phone interview.
Both proposals will be made public on March 14, he said.
Rona Inc, a Quebec-based home-improvement retailer, rebuffed an unsolicited C$1.8 billion ($1.75 billion) takeover proposal from U.S.-based Lowe’s Cos Inc in August. The Lowe’s plan had sparked a wave of political opposition in Quebec.
Spokespersons at the Ontario, British Columbia and other provincial regulators were not immediately available to comment on the Globe and Mail report.