Belgium does not rule out buying Dexia Bank Belgium

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Belgium does not exclude buying up 100 percent of Dexia's Belgian arm, a minister said Sunday as France and Brussels raced to wrap up talks on dismantling the troubled cross-border bank.

"The state is going to substantially raise its stake," Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders said in an interview with RTBF television. "If we were at 100 percent, which I do not exclude, it is not our intention to stay forever. (But) That doesn't mean that we will stay for three or six months."

"I don't exclude that in three or five years, maybe more, we will still be present" in the bank, he said.

The comments came as France and Belgium raced to wrap up talks on dismantling the first bank to fall victim to the eurozone debt crisis and as Dexia's board of directors prepared to meet at 3:00 pm (1300 GMT).

French and Belgian prime ministers, Francois Fillon and Yves Leterme, will hold a lunch-time meeting in Brussels to finalise a deal, officials said.

The two countries became shareholders in Dexia after the bank had to be rescued in 2008 in the global financial crisis.

According to media reports, the two sides must reach agreement on two major sticking points -- the sale price of Dexia shares, including those in its Belgian arm; and on the guarantees needed to back up a so-called "bad bank" that will remain after Dexia's dismantling to hold high-risk assets.

© 2011 AFP

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