ABN Amro confirms IPO before year-end
Dutch bank ABN Amro confirmed Tuesday plans to sell the first of its state-owned shares in an initial public offering later this year, seven years after a multi-billion state-sponsored bailout.
The Netherlands' third largest bank was nationalised during the height of the 2008 banking crisis when the Dutch government bailed out the lender in a 22-billion-euro ($24-billion) deal.
The government has held the reins ever since at the bank, now valued at around 15 billion euros ($16.5 billion).
"All approvals (for the IPO) including from the Dutch parliament, the Dutch Central Bank and the European Central Bank have been received," ABN Amro said.
"Barring unforeseen circumstances, the offering could be launched as of Q4 2015," ABN Amro said in a combined statement with the government agency charged with the bank's administration.
Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem announced the bank's sale in May, but at the time not all approvals for the deal had been received.
Dijsselbloem said then that the sale's first tranche will consist of about 20-30 percent of the bank.
"We have always focused on three criteria," Dijsselbloem said Tuesday in his weekly chat with private Dutch broadcaster RTL Z.
Firstly, "is the bank ready?"; secondly, "is the financial sector sufficiently ready, stable and strong?"; thirdly, "is there interest from third parties?"
"These criteria are being met, so we're starting," said Dijsselbloem, who also chairs the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers.
Gerrit Zalm, who chairs ABN Amro's managing board, said the move marked "an important step towards our new future."
The Netherlands' third-largest bank after ING and Rabobank, ABN Amro traces its roots back to the 19th century.
It was listed on the Amsterdam stock exchange before being bought in 2007 by a consortium consisting of Spain's Santander, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Belgian-Dutch Fortis.
The 71-billion-euro deal, one of the largest in banking history, however ultimately proved a calamity for its buyers when the global financial crisis hit.
Fortis was dismantled during the 2008 banking crisis to avoid bankruptcy and its Dutch activities including its share in ABN Amro were bailed out by the Dutch government, which then merged it back into ABN Amro Bank.
Dijsselbloem in March delayed the bank's privatisation, which had been expected in the first quarter of this year, because of public anger over salary hikes for its board of directors.
The directors eventually gave up their pay rises of around 100,000 euros.
© 2015 AFP