Fortis shares jump 20 pct after BNP deal revised

10th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

The Belgian government and BNP Paribas reached a new deal on Saturday to carve up the group.

BRUSSELS - Shares in stricken financial services group Fortis Holding jumped over 20 percent in early trade yesterday after a deal revising BNP Paribas' takeover of its Belgian banking assets.

The Belgian government and BNP Paribas reached a new deal on Saturday to carve up the group in order to appease angry Fortis shareholders who rejected a previous plan because they felt they had been shortchanged.

Shares in Fortis Holding rallied 20.73 percent to 1.159 euros in Brussels while the Bel-20 index of leading Belgian stocks gained 1.43 percent.

Meanwhile, shares in BNP Paribas were showing a loss of 0.99 percent in Paris at 21.68 euros.

Under the new deal, BNP would still buy 75 percent of Fortis Bank, the Belgian banking business of the group, from the Belgian state, which retains a 25 percent interest.

However, the French bank would buy 25 percent of Fortis' Belgian insurance operations from the holding company instead of only 10 percent as foreseen under the earlier agreement.

Fortis Holding would also be stuck with less exposure to toxic assets while the state offered guarantees against further losses at Fortis Bank and BNP made commitments to keep jobs.

The Belgian-Dutch financial services group was broken up last October as the global financial crisis undermined investor confidence. The Dutch state took over its Dutch assets and Belgium the Belgian banking assets.

The dismantling of Fortis stripped the publicly traded holding company of its main assets, prompting shareholders to launch court action as their shares became next to worthless.

In December, a Brussels appeal court backed their legal challenge, ruling that the minority shareholders should have been consulted first, and appointing a panel to review the operation.

Last month, Fortis shareholders rejected by a slim majority the sale to BNP Paribas as well as the nationalisation of its assets in the Netherlands.


0 Comments To This Article