[OPE] Belgian workers protest over Fortis sell-off

From: Gerald Levy <jerry_levy@verizon.net>
Date: Tue Oct 07 2008 - 08:39:05 EDT

>From _The Guardian_./ In solidarity, Jerry

Belgian workers protest over Fortis sell-off

Belgium woke up today to a national strike in protest at falling living
standards – and the French takeover of its biggest bank. "Fortis is French"
is the headline on today's front page of the country's leading
French-language paper, Le Soir.

As the scale of the decline of Fortis from Europe's 19th biggest bank to a
mere rump sank in, Filip Dierckx, acting chief executive, apologised
profusely to staff, investors and customers during a hastily arranged
conference call.

Fortis, which overreached itself by paying €24bn for key parts of Dutch
rival ABN Amro last year, has shrunk to an international insurance business,
including operations in the UK, and a package of risky structured products –
some of which are being parked in a special investment vehicle (SIV).

BNP Paribas, in an overnight deal which made it the eurozone's biggest
retail bank, confirmed today it is paying €14.5bn (£11.2bn) for Fortis's
Belgian banking and insurance business – and its international banking

Late on Friday, in a move that triggered widespread anger in Belgium, the
Dutch government and central bank unilaterally mounted an operation to take
over Fortis's entire Dutch business - as the bancassurer saw its wholesale
funding freeze and retail investors threaten to quit in their droves.

BNP, which is acquiring 75% of Fortis Belgium from the Belgian authorities
and 67% of its Luxembourg banking business, is paying €5.5bn in cash for the
insurance business and €9bn via new shares for the bank.

Dierckz, who indicated he has no idea if he will stay on to run the rump,
explained that Fortis will be liable for two-thirds of the SIV, which will
ringfence €10.4bn of the most impaired assets within the structured credit
portfolio which has been marked down at "fair value". The Belgian government
takes on 24% and BNP the remaining 10%.

However, he was unable to give precise details about the fate of the
remaining €30bn or so within the portfolio and indicated that the cash left
in this entire business was a mere €100m.

ope mailing list
Received on Tue Oct 7 08:43:12 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed Dec 03 2008 - 15:12:03 EST