Shareholders' meetings costing Fortis a packet

31st March 2009, Comments 0 comments

At least €12 million has been spent on expert fees and meetings as the ailing bank attempts to start afresh.

The many shareholders’ meetings and the experts appointed to work for the different courts consulted on the dismantling of Fortis holding have cost the company, which is quoted on the stock exchange, at least €12 million. The figures from the group have been published on the website of the financial daily De Tijd.

The different experts appointed cost a total of some €1.7 million. The shareholders’ meetings cost some €10 million.

The uncertainty overshadowing the Fortis group has weighed heavily on the share price, and, according to De Tijd, the enduring costs of the dismantlement procedure is taking its toll.

The Belgian government had reached a sales deal with BNP Paribas last October. That deal was made conditional on shareholder approval after a Belgian court ruled in December that the government was wrong to agree the deal without first consulting the shareholders for a vote.

The Brussels Court of Appeals suspended the sale of Fortis to BNP Paribas pending a general shareholders’ meeting on February 11.

The shareholders voted against a government rescue plan that would see BNP Paribas buy most of Fortis' Belgian banking and insurance operations.

The deal would have made the French bank the largest in the euro-zone, asset-wise. In a modified accord between the Belgian government and BNP Belgium would have kept 90% of the Fortis insurance activities, but would still sell the banking part to BNP. The vote was extremely close with the 'no' vote pulling together just 51%.

Fortis had to cough up the fees for the different groups of experts who had to be consulted.

In the course of five months (from the beginning of December until the end of April), nine general meetings will have been organised.

The February 11 shareholders’ meeting alone cost more than €1 million.

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