Dutch government to start selling ABN Amro later this year
The Dutch government decided Friday to start selling state-owned bank ABN Amro seven years after it was nationalised during the financial crisis, Dutch media reported.
The decision to sell 20-30 percent of the bank in the fourth quarter of 2015 was taken at a cabinet meeting, Dutch news agency ANP reported.
ABN Amro, the Netherlands' third-largest bank after ING and Rabobank, is worth around 15 billion euros ($17 billion).
The government was expected also to decide to implement measures to counter the possibility of a hostile takeover, Dutch newspaper Financieele Dagblad reported.
The government wants the bank to have "the most solid protection", the paper said, also quoting sources close to the matter.
ABN Amro, which traces its roots back to the 19th century, was listed on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange before being bought in 2007 by a consortium consisting of Spanish 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 as the global financial crisis peaked.
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, and it has held the reins ever since.
Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen 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