Bailed-out Fortis to relist shares

Bailed-out Fortis to relist shares

Brussels (Belgium): Fortis, which was forced to sell its main business to the Belgian, Dutch and Luxembourg governments, said it will start trading its shares again on 14 October as a stripped-down insurer.

Shares of Fortis, once the biggest Belgian and Dutch bank, have been suspended for a week after dropping about 90% since the start of the year. That happened on fears that it could not get credit on frozen markets to cover the debt it built up buying part of Dutch bank ABN Amro.

It sought state rescue, with the three governments agreeing first to partly nationalize the bank and then to split it, with the Dutch government taking control of its Dutch operations, and Belgium and Luxembourg selling most of the bank’s activities to France’s BNP Paribas, the largest euro-zone bank by assets.

Some 7,000 Fortis shareholders have signed up to a campaign to sue the company’s management for allegedly misleading them and agreeing to the sale without consulting them. They will take a case to the Amsterdam commercial courts that could block or delay the bailout plan.

Fortis said in a statement Tuesday that it had “undergone a complete metamorphosis" after it was stripped of its Dutch and Belgian banking and insurance businesses as part of the state bailout.

It said it would seek to delay publishing third quarter results—originally due on 3 November—warning that unraveling its new situation “cannot be done in a few days."

“Fortis, like many financial institutions, has been confronted with a systemic financial crisis of ever-growing, unparalleled proportions," the company said, defending the sale of its core business as the only way to ensure they could continue to function.