BNP Paribas and Belgium reach Fortis agreement
BELGIUM/FRANCE - Belgian-Dutch bancassurer Fortis said today BNP Paribas, France's largest bank, and the Belgian state had agreed on revised terms on the transactions concluded in October last year.
Under the agreement, BNP Paribas will now take a smaller part of Fortis' Belgian insurance unit and more of its toxic assets to salvage a rescue led by the government and challenged in court.
The Fortis board said early this morning it had agreed on the new terms, though they are still subject to the approval of Fortis' shareholders. Fortis could face futher renegotiations if shareholders do not agree.
A spokeswoman told IPE the matter will have to be put before shareholders before the end of February, and it is possible the bank will have to schedule a new shareholder meeting.
There is a shareholders meeting on February 11 in Brussels which will discuss the nomination of board members and the transaction, so the new agreement could be added to the agenda of this meeting.
However, the shareholder meeting in Utrecht on February 13 is only intended to cover nominations of board members, so it is unlikely it will cover the new agreement, said the spokeswoman.
The nationalised bank today published a shareholder circular on its website, outlining the revised terms.
Fortis said it had had postponed the publication of the shareholder circular awaiting the publication of the interim report of the committee of experts, which was published 26 January and also pending the negotiations between Fortis, the Belgian State and BNP Paribas which started on 27 January.
Fortis was forced to sell most of its assets to governments in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg over three days last October after running out of short-term funding and seeing its share price plummet.
Subsequently, investors began to challenge some of the rescues negotiated.
Fortis said on Wednesday it had reopened its talks with the Belgian government and BNP Paribas over the sale of its assets, on the recommendation of a court-appointed panel of experts.
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