Lib Dems' takeover pledge

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The Liberal Democrats would be willing to increase the takeover timetable of listed companies from 60 to 90 days in exchange for massive reform.

John Thurso, the party's business spokesman, launched its business manifesto last week. He has called for the takeover timetable to start as soon as a pursued listed company announces that a predator has approached it about a possible offer.

At present, the timetable to complete a deal doesn't start until a provisional offer is made. However, this leaves a gap during which rogue investors can bet on the possibility of the proposal's success.

Mr Thurso proposes that the shareholder register be frozen from the initial announcement. But he would allow the timetable to increase to 90 days. "In some cases, it can take six months, making it massively destabilising for companies," he said. "If, in consultation with the Takeover Panel, they wanted to change the length of the timetable, I would be quite relaxed about that."