ABN Amro Nederland will find a ‘safe haven’ now it is being sold by Fortis, finance minister Wouter Bos told MPs on Tuesday night. According to the Financieele Dagblad, this effectively rules out a stock exchange listing.
Speaking during an emergency debate on the partial privatisation of Fortis, Bos said last year’s takeover of ABN Amro’s Dutch operations by the financial services group for €24bn had been more risky than originally thought.
‘There was not enough of an overview of all the risks involved,’ Bos was reported as saying.
Fortis was one of a consortium of three banks which bought ABN Amro for over €70bn last year. The Dutch government and central bank approved the deal.
This weekend the Dutch government agreed to inject €4bn to take a 49% stake in Fortis Nederland. That money is being borrowed at an interest rate of 4%. Fortis has also agreed to sell ABN Amro Nederland.
According to the Financieele Dagblad, the Royal Bank of Scotland, France’s BNP Paribas and Germany’s Deutsche Bank are possible candidates to buy the division. RBS was one of Fortis’ partners in the original ABN Amro takeover.
‘All three are bonafide banks,’ Reneé Hazebroek of ABN Amro’s central workers council told the Financielee Dagblad.
Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende said the weekend’s intervention had been necessary to prevent damage to the economy. The cabinet ‘could not and did not want to remain on the sidelines,’ he said.
The Telegraaf says that both the prime minister and Bos rejected calls from the two opposition Liberal parties to revise the budget plans for 2009 which were presented last month, saying the Dutch economy could withstand a few knocks.
Nevertheless, Balkenende called on MPs to put their differences behind them and work together to restore financial stability. ‘The problems we now have to deal with are above party political divisions,’ the Telegraaf reported him as saying.
MPs urged Bos to make sure Fortis managers responsible for the crisis do not now leave the company with big pay-offs. Bos said he would keep an eye on the deals struck within the Dutch arm of the company where the government is now a shareholder, reports the Telegraaf.
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