Dutch state may offer financial help to ABN Amro: Bos

22nd May 2009, Comments 0 comments

Contrary to his earlier angry reaction, finance minister Wouter Bos said he has now accepted the state will have to provide financial assistance to the bank.

The Hague – Dutch Finance Minister Wouter Bos said Wednesday that banking group ABN Amro, in which the government is a major shareholder, may have to receive state financial support "at any moment".

Bos told the lower house of parliament that "he accepts the state will have to provide financial assistance to ABN Amro at any moment", ministry spokeswoman Lies Weitenberg told AFP. He did not say when or how much.

ABN Amro executive director Gerrit Zalm said in an interview published Wednesday he wanted a fresh capital injection from the government.

"We cannot continue if the state does not help us and if (the European Commission) does not authorise such assistance," he told the newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad, while also disclosing no amount.

The Dutch government nationalised the Netherlands-based activities of erstwhile Belgo-Dutch banking and insurance group Fortis for EUR 16.8 billion in October 2008, including its stake in ABN Amro.

ABN Amro had been jointly acquired by Fortis, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Spanish Banco Santander a year earlier under the joint mantle of RFS Holdings.

In December 2008, the Dutch state bought Fortis Netherlands' share in RFS Holdings.

Zalm complained that while the Dutch state had committed large sums to ABN Amro and the Dutch banking unit of Fortis, which have merged, "all of it went to Fortis" in Brussels.

"We have not received a euro," said the former Dutch finance minister.

Earlier reports said Bos had reacted angrily to the reported statements of Zalm, who had in turn offered his apologies.

ABN Amro announced Tuesday up to 5,000 out of 30,000 jobs would be cut in its merger with Fortis' Dutch banking operations, which still requires the approval of the European Union's executive commission and the Dutch central bank.

AFP / Expatica

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