Dutch government to start selling ABN Amro this year

22nd May 2015, Comments 0 comments

The Dutch government decided Friday to start selling state-owned bank ABN Amro seven years after it was nationalised during the financial crisis.

"A first part will be sold from the fourth quarter," Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem told journalists after the weekly cabinet meeting.

The first tranche will be of 20-30 percent of the bank and the entire flotation will take several years, "meaning that the state remains a shareholder for several years", said Dijsselbloem.

ABN Amro, the Netherlands' third-largest bank after ING and Rabobank, is worth around 15 billion euros ($17 billion).

"Calm and trust have returned," said Prime Minister Mark Rutte, adding that markets were now sufficiently stable, there was enough interest and the bank was ready.

The government also decided to implement measures to counter the possibility of a hostile takeover.

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.

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

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