NETHERLANDS - ABP, the €193bn Dutch pension fund, has confirmed it does "not rule out" taking legal steps against former Belgian-Dutch bancassurer Fortis concerning its recent financial status.

A spokesman today said the pension fund has not made definite plans to take legal action against Fortis - whose different parts were last month nationalised in both the Netherlands and Belgium as a result of the credit crunch - though added the fund is currently considering its position.

"ABP decided last Jun, during the share rights issuance of Fortis, to take a share at its attractive share price of €10 per share. Including the existing share the total holding came to 2.5% of the share capital of Fortis," wrote the spokesman today.

He added Fortis' promise at the time to come with a plan to improve its solvency played an important role in ABP's decision to increase its holdings in the company.

"Almost nothing has come of this," added the spokesman.

"As a consequence of the development surrounding Fortis in the last few weeks, the value of the share Fortis has dropped significantly. And ABP has been hit by this," added the fund, which says it is unclear what the eventual damage will be.

"We are currently considering the position that we as a shareholder can occupy. So we are gathering information and we are deliberating with the relevant parties. The outcome of these evaluation will determine if ABP will take any steps, and if so which steps this would be."

In August, APG's head of corporate governance Paul Frentrop had called for governance changes at the firm as it was concerned about the structure of the company. (See earlier IPE story: ABP calls for governance change at Fortis)

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