With the bail out of SNS Reaal the Dutch state now owns two of the country’s four major banks. What the papers say.
The nationalisation of SNS Reaal is a unique step that no other European country has taken: using a recently approved intervention law, finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem has wiped out shareholders as well as subordinated debt investors, the Financieele Dagblad writes.
By imposing a special €1bn levy on banks, Dijsselbloem is trying to ease the pain for the taxpayer even further but, writes the FD, the state will still have to recapitalise and isolate the bank’s troubled real-estate division to the tune of €3.7bn. And that translates into a 0.6 % on top of the deficit.
Shareholders lobby VEB is going to court over the legitimacy of the implementation of the law as well as compensation for shareholders but the FD quotes financial law professor Danny Busch as saying that ‘the state has acted lawfully and disputing the intervention will be very difficult. However,’ he continues, ‘the state says SNS Reaal wasn’t worth anything but we will have to see about that.’
The NRC quotes a number of economists who ‘sharply criticise’ the Dutch national bank for not being transparent enough about the criteria that lead to banks being qualified as a ‘systeem bank’, or major bank which would have to be saved under any circumstances.
Some economists doubt whether the bank should have been saved at all but as the central bank does not give out information about its decision making process, the grounds for its qualification remain unclear. This is ‘undemocratic’ NRC quotes macro-economist Roel Beetsma as saying.
In its editorial, Elsevier says it is only just that ‘investors who have for years encouraged the risky property dealings of the bank are now left without a cent’.
The main thing now is to sort out SNS Reaal, Elsevier writes. ‘The bank has to be sold into the private sector as soon as possible. Apart from the cost of the bail out, the fact that three out of the four major Dutch banks is now in the hands of the state will hit the banks’ customers – all of us, that is – hardest. The result will be lack of competition, low interest rates, and high mortgage rates. The consumer pays no matter what.’
The Volkskrant makes an inventory of winners and losers. It seems the 6,700 strong staff at SNS Reaal is neither: there won’t be any immediate job losses, the paper writes, but if the state manages to sell off parts of the bank the new owners will almost certainly cut jobs.
The losers, the paper says, include shareholders and the FNV trade union federation, which is still owed over €20m following a loan it made to insurance group Reaal way back in 1997.
The big winners include the investors, such as Britain’s Black Rock, which had been speculating on share price fall. According to the FD, the Volkskrant states, they will have made some €26bn on the nationalisation.