Council of State approves SNS nationalisation, minister was not wrong

The Council of State on Monday rejected appeals from hundreds of shareholders and said finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem did not break the law in nationalising financial services group SNS earlier this month.

Some 700 shareholders, the Dutch investors’ association VEB and the FNV trade union federation had appealed to the council against the nationalisation, which rendered all shares and subordinated bonds in the company worthless.

In total, investors lost some €1.3bn when the company was taken over by the state and all the shares expropriated without compensation.

The council, which is the Netherlands’ highest administrative court, said the minister had acted within the law in nationalising SNS Reaal.

However, the council did clear the way for investors to claim damages if they can prove SNS executives were guilty of bad business practices, or maladministration. The minister had also attempted to remove those rights.

‘Investors have something to fight for now they have been given some of their rights back,’ Jan Maarten Slagter, head of the investors association VEB, said.

The VEB is involved in other legal action on behalf of SNS shareholders at the company court.