Dijsselbloem puts ABN Amro sale on ice over pay hikes

27th March 2015, Comments 0 comments

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Friday he was delaying a decision to sell state-owned bank ABN Amro following much-criticised reports about huge pay raises for the bank's top management.

"As you are aware, Cabinet aimed to decide on ABN Amro's sale in the first quarter of 2015," Dijsselbloem, who is also the Eurogroup chairman, said in a letter to the Dutch parliament.

"This week I received a report from the (parliament's) Finance Committee on questions over pay hikes at ABN Amro. In light of this, I am postponing the decision on its sale," Dijsselbloem said in the letter, published on the parliament's website.

The Dutch government last week slammed huge pay raises for senior bankers to offset a 2012 law curbing bonuses, with Dijsselbloem himself calling it "the wrong signal" while ordinary citizens are still hit by austerity.

"For me and many others it sticks in the throat," he said after reports that the country's largest banks including ABN Amro and ING have given top managers huge pay hikes.

ING, the Netherlands' largest bank said last week its executive director would earn 1.63 million euros ($1.7 million), up from 1.27 million euros a year ago, while other top ING employees have seen similar rises.

ABN Amro, which hoped to float later this year after being nationalised following the 2008 banking crisis, raised its directors' salaries by 17 percent, to 707,500 euros.

The Dutch government bought ABN Amro in October 2008 in a bailout worth 16.8 billion euros.

The Hague hopes to get back some 22 billion euros with the bank's eventual sale, although Dutch media have put the amount of state aid pumped into the banking giant at over 30 billion euros.

ABN Amro is the country's third-largest bank after ING and Rabobank and traces its roots back to the 19th century.

© 2015 AFP

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