The potential hostile takeovers of Unilever and AkzoNobel were a wake-up call for their respective boards of management and boards of directors, providing a reason for both companies to act, however, both moved in the wrong direction, by selling-off parts of their companies, and of course via cost-cutting. Two easily-implemented actions which helped improve shareholder value. The Big Egos at the top were no doubt very proud of themselves to have made a decision. Together with my co-author, Dr. Antoinette Rijsenbilt, we described those too Big Egos in numerous cases in our 2015 book “Big Boys Big Egos and Strategic Intelligence”.
It has been instructive to see the following three things happening which people tend to accept far too easily: how effective are Boards of Directors, and what of their responsibility and accountability in controlling and monitoring their Boards of Management? It seems they are not effective at all, most have no idea of what is really going on, and what new challenges that are facing.
Dutch multinationals are facing strong competitors from outside the EU, who are confronted less with the difficult market circumstances prevailing in Europe. According to research by the Dutch Financial Times FD, this concerns multinationals such as AkzoNobel, Aegon, DSM, Wolters Kluwer, KPN, Heineken and Shell. Philips and Ahold are stuck in the middle, and Reed Elsevier and Randstad are the only outperformers.