Fortis sale blocked by shareholders
by David Masters
Story link: Fortis sale blocked by shareholders
Fortis shareholders have voted against proposals to sell the bank’s Belgian assets to French bank BNP Paribas.
The Belgian government said the decision puts Fortis in danger of total collapse.
Shareholders ignored warnings from acting Fortis chairman Jan-Michiel Hessels that Fortis would face potential bankruptcy if the sale to BNP was blocked.
Following the vote, Hessels said: “Looking at the result of this vote, the transaction can no longer take place, it is impossible for the Belgian government to sell the bank to BNP.”
Georges Uguex, elected to the board following the vote, said: “This is an extraordinary victory for good governance.
“Our task now should be creating shareholder value”
Uguex told the Belgian government and BNP that they should start negotiating a new deal that takes account of shareholders’ interests.
Last year, Fortis posted losses of €19 billion mostly related to its part in the takeover of ABN Amro.
The Belgian government’s decision to sell off Fortis assets to BNP was originally halted by a court ruling in December after shareholders submitted a legal appeal because they wanted a vote in the matter.