Belgian court rules against Fortis shareholders

10th December 2009, Comments 0 comments

A Brussels court said it could not judge a complaint by about 2,400 small shareholders seeking to block the break-up of Belgian-Dutch banking and insurance group Fortis.

BRUSSELS - The court said it could not issue a ruling on the actions of the Dutch government and the Netherlands central bank during decisions taken at the height of the economic crisis last year as to the future of Fortis.

However, a Belgian legal battle -- mirrored by a similar long-running fight in the Netherlands -- is set to run on after the preliminary hearing.

Fortis shareholders approved a deal to sell the group's nationalised former Belgian banking arm to BNP Paribas at the end of April, with the French banking giant taking control the following month.

The court said that shareholders' calls for the suspension of that deal were "unfounded," with judge Patrice Libiez ruling that such a freeze "would complicate life for the banks (BNP and Fortis) beyond acceptable limits."

The judge nevertheless said the shareholders had "respectable rights" but that they represented only a "restricted proportion" of the overall holding, at best 0.5 percent of capital, and that their grievance was "pecuniary and still reparable."

The shareholders are ultimately looking for compensation to be paid at the rate of nine euros (13.50 dollars) per share.

The lawyer for the plaintiffs, Mischael Modrikamen, told reporters that the ruling "does not satisfy me," adding that "it seems obvious to me that we will recommend appealing against this decision."

Fortis was ordered to furnish the commercial tribunal with a series of documents which Modrikamen said would enable shareholders to pursue their opposition.


0 Comments To This Article