Fortis SA/NV group litigation forthcoming

On the 9th of October last year it was announced that a consortium of three banks had won control over ABN Amro Holding NV of the Netherlands. (FT) Just shy of a year later, one of those three banks, Fortis SA/NV (Euronext: FORA/FORB), has been displaced by the Ministry of Finance of the Netherlands.
(press release) (The other two consortium banks are The Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (LSE: RBS) and Banco Santander SA (Bolsa de Madrid: SAN).)

After too many developments to mention here during that year, on the 3rd of october the Dutch State took control of all Fortis assets in the Netherlands, including the Dutch units of ABN Amro that Fortis had acquired. Total consideration: €16.8 billion. Price Fortis paid for its share of ABN Amro: €24 billion. On the 6th, BNP Paribas (Euronext: BNP) paid €14.5 billion in cash and shares for almost everything else outside of the Netherlands, a sale orchestrated by the government of Belgium. (press release) And on the 8th, two websites popped up: FortisAction.com and Beduveld.nl (in Dutch).

Both websites aim to unite ‘hoodwinked’ - or ‘beduveld’ in Dutch - Fortis shareholders and organise legal action. FortisAction.com is an initiative by Euroshareholders, a confederation of 32 European non-profit shareholders associations. Beduveld.nl is an initiative by Beursduivel.be and Belegger.nl, two shareholders websites ultimately owned by Sanoma Oyj (NASDAQ OMX: SAA1V). Any shareholder can sign up via these websites to be kept informed of their respective developments. Beduveld.nl has retained the firm Modrikamen on behalf of its group, which has made the first legal move. Modrikamen put out this statement (in Dutch) and filed a case to enjoin Belgium from proceeding with the asset sale to BNP Paribas.

Euroshareholders has indicated at a press conference today (Monday 13) it will launch its own action in a Dutch court within a fortnight seeking a judgment in particular on whether shareholder approval should have been sought for the BNP Paribas transaction. (Reuters, DJN, AFP/Yahoo!) To be continued…

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