'No' vote could finish Fortis, CEO warns shareholders

11th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Jan-Michiel Hessel says bank needed the cash from the sale of Belgian Fortis assets.

AMSTERDAM - The head of Dutch-Belgian bank Fortis warned that the lender faced the threat of bankruptcy if its shareholders voted against a carve-up designed to generate cash at a meeting on Wednesday.

Chief executive Jan-Michiel Hessel told the Dutch daily Het Financieele Dagblad in an interview that Fortis needed the cash from the sale of Belgian Fortis assets to France's BNP Paribas to guard against toxic assets.

If the deal is blocked, "we're threatened by a bankruptcy, which will leave the shareholders empty-handed," Hessel said.

The sale would generate 2.3 billion euros (3.0 billion dollars) needed to protect the firm, he said.

The Belgian government has promised Fortis financial support provided the break-up is approved by its shareholders.

Fortis shareholders will vote Wednesday on the sale of 75 percent of Fortis's Belgian banking operations and 10 percent of its Belgian insurance business to BNP Paribas.


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