It has never been clear whether an existing shareholder of a joint stock company (JSC) has pre-emptive rights over new shares issued by the JSC. However, in the past, under Decision 12/2007 of the Ministry of Finance on corporate governance rules applicable to public listed JSCs, “shareholders may refuse to exercise their priority right to purchase new shares. This right of refusal shall be clearly stated in the relevant resolution of the general meeting of shareholders.” Many legal practitioners have relied on this provision of Decision 12/2007 to take the view that in case a public listed company issues new shares to a strategic investor by way of private placement,
- a collective waiver of pre-emptive rights recorded in the Shareholder resolutions of the target company approving the transaction is sufficient; and
- there is no need for the target company to collect individual waiver from each individual shareholder regarding their potential pre-emptive over the new shares to be issued to the strategic investor.
This view was particularly helpful to parties who want to expedite the deal process.
Decision 12/2007 has now been repealed by Decision 121/2012, which does not contain the provision on collective waiver of pre-emptive rights. On the contrary, Decision 121/2012 just basically repeats the provision in the Enterprise Law, which serves as the basis for pre-emptive rights of existing shareholders. While the model charter attached to Decision 121/2012 still contains a provision similar to the provision under Decision 12/2007, the legal arguments for not obtaining individual waiver from each individual shareholder regarding their potential pre-emptive over the new shares to be issued to the strategic investor have clearly become weaker.