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Business

New deal reached on Fortis asset sale to BNP

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Latest update : 2009-01-30

Belgian officials, BNP Paribas and the Fortis holding company reached an agreement on the sale of most of the group's Belgian assets to BNP Paribas, according to a Belgian government statement.

AFP - Belgian officials, BNP Paribas and the Fortis holding company have reached an agreement on the sale of most of the group's Belgian assets to the French bank, the Belgian government announced Friday.
  
"Fortis Holding and its shareholders now have a perspective and means united around a credible industrial project," a statement said, after a meeting of the government's inner cabinet early Friday.
  
Under the deal, thrashed out through the night, the French group would give up plans to buy most of Fortis's insurance business.
  
BNP would take 10 percent of the insurance operations for a sum of 550 million euros (709 million dollars), instead of 75 percent of the Belgium insurance business as was planned in a previous agreement reached in October.
  
The statement said that the Fortis board had approved the plans on the condition that they be accepted by shareholders.
  
The government hopes minority shareholders will now back the sale of most of the group's Belgian assets to BNP after the initial deal was suspended by a Brussels court because they had not been consulted.
  
This led to the transaction being frozen.
  
As the global financial crisis undermined investor confidence, the Belgian-Dutch financial services group was broken up in October. The Dutch state took over its Dutch assets, and Belgium the Belgian banking assets.
  
The Belgian state then orchestrated the sale of Fortis's Belgian banking assets and 75 percent of its Belgian insurance business, still owned by the holding company, to BNP Paribas.
  
In December, a Brussels appeals court backed a legal challenge against the deal from minority shareholders, ruling that they should have been consulted first, and appointing the panel to review the operation.
  
A court-appointed panel of experts backed on Tuesday the sale of Fortis' Belgian assets to the French bank but recommended that some conditions of the deal be re-negotiated.
  
The crisis helped bring down Belgian's government last month.
  
Former prime minister Yves Leterme's office was accused of trying unsuccessfully to persuade the court not to grant the shareholders' legal appeal against the Fortis break-up.
  

Date created : 2009-01-30

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