Nationalised bank ABN Amro to be sold off in blocks, cabinet agrees

Customs officer arrest leads to 2.8 tonne marijuana seizure

Nationalised bank ABN Amro is to be sold off in several blocks and the first bundle of shares will likely be floated in the final quarter of this year, the Dutch cabinet has agreed. ABN Amro was nationalised in 2008 following its takeover by a consortium of other banks. The state hopes to earn €15bn from the sale, less than half the total bill for its rescue. Finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem was due to announce the date for the IPO in March and insiders expected the launch would be before the summer. However, the row over the bank’s decision to give €100,000 pay rises to senior executives to get around the new limit on bonuses prompted a rethink. [banner] Dijsselbloem said at the time an IPO required 'a period of calm and confidence'. Those conditions have now been met, the minister is quoted by Nos as saying on Friday. The bank is able to stand on its own two feet, the financial markets are stable and there is a sufficient number of interested buyers, he said. In order to prevent a hostile takeover, the government plans to erect a number of takeover defences, Dijsselbloem said. As long as the Dutch state owns one-third of the shares, it will have right of veto over important decisions. Once the state is no longer a controlling shareholder, additional defences will be introduced, the Financieele Dagblad says. More on this  More >

Dutch consumer spending continues to rise

Dutch consumer spending continues to rise Both Dutch companies and consumers are showing increasing confidence in the economy, the national statistics office CBS said on Friday. Dutch consumer spending rose 1.9% in March, compared with the year earlier period, while investment by industry soared 14.3%, the CBS said. In particular, consumers spent more on gas, domestic appliances and furniture. The consumer confidence index has now hit +2, meaning there are slightly more optimists than pessimists. In February the index rose above zero for the first time in over seven years, recovering from a record low of -44 set in February 2013. [banner]  More >

Primary schools want more white pupils

‘Is this white enough for you?’ say two Amsterdam primary schools Two Amsterdam primary schools with predominantly ethnic minority pupils on Friday launch a campaign for more white children to attend, using provocative t-shirts. The schools, one in the Rivierenbuurt and one in the trendy Pijp district, have decided to draw attention to their plight by 'going white' for the day. Pupils will wear t-shirts with the slogan 'is this white enough for you?' and parents and teachers will also wear white clothing, the Parool reports. The schools are both facing closure because of falling pupil numbers and say their pupil population does not represent the make-up of their localities. If more white children sign up, the schools will be able to stay open and have a better mix of pupils. [banner] Mirjam Leinders, of the Asko school board, says she recognises the campaign is controversial but that something has to be done. 'The Avonturijn and the St Hoogdalen are both good schools but they are black schools in a mixed area, and that is odd,' she told the Parool. 'A school should reflect its neighbourhood.' Doubts One mother told the Parool she had serious doubts about the campaign. 'My stomach turned when I heard about it,' Fatna El Guebli, who has three children at the school, told the paper. 'Why do they need white children? We are all Dutch.' Nevertheless, El Guebli said she too would wear white clothing on Friday. 'This is a good school,' she said. 'I attended it myself.' Amsterdam education alderman Simone Kukenheim said the council is aware of the problem but that the council itself will not take action against segregation. 'Freedom of choice is very important,' she said.  More >

NS unit leads London train hate tweet list

Dutch railway firm Abellio gets most hate tweets for its London service A British railway service to London run by Dutch state-owned railway company NS has received more Twitter complaints than any other UK service, the Daily Mail says on Friday. Abellio Greater Anglia received almost 73,000 negative tweets – or one in six of the complaints registered, the paper says. The tweets were collated by travel feedback company CommuteLondon which searched for keywords such as 'fault', 'profit', 'angry' and 'frustrated', the paper says. [banner] The survey covered the 14 train companies with services to London. The least hated train company was Chiltern, which received just 5,676 Twitter complaints. A spokesman for Abellio told the paper: 'In 2015 we are currently investing over £30m in improving our train fleet, customer service and train performance, and in better train cleaning.' Abellio runs several other services in England, including Merseyrail and Northern Rail, and last October won the contract to provide train services in Scotland.  More >

Anti-assault jewellery wins student award

This year's €50,000 Philips Innovation Award has gone to student start-up Pearltect, which is developing an arm band to ward off sexual attacks. The arm band not only emits a strong smell to scare off attackers but sprays them with a DNA marker which is difficult to wash off. The chemical lights up under UV lighting and will make it easier to identify culprits. The Pearltect team, which also took the public prize, is made up of students from Erasmus and Delft universities and Rotterdam's hbo college. The four other finalists included Homey, a voice-controlled home assistant, a design tool for city planners named Smart Blocks, the Blue Battery storage system, and 3D printing platform Printr. [banner]  More >