The key requirements of the City Code are:
- All shareholders must be offered equally good terms, as defined by the code.
- All shareholders must be given equal access to information.
- A time table is adhered to that sets time limits for each phase of the bid.
- Bidders and members of a concert party must disclose their dealings.
- The bidder must set an acceptance level (of over 50%) at which the bid becomes unconditional.
- There are limits on the conditions attached to a bid.
- A mandatory offer must be made if a shareholder's or concert party's holdings exceed 30%.
- The board of the target company may not use poison pills and other actions to frustrate a bona fide bid, unless they have shareholder approval.
In addition to these the Companies Act imposes its own requirements: all shareholdings of above 3% must be disclosed, and any changes of more than 1% in such shareholding must also be disclosed, whether or not they are related to a bid.
The City Code is also now required to follow the rules laid down by the EU directive on takeovers. It directly incorporates part of the directive.