Shareholders’ lobby group fights SNS nationalisation

The Dutch shareholders’ lobby group VEB has made a formal appeal to the Netherlands’ highest administrative court on behalf of investors duped by the nationalisation of SNS Reaal.

The organisation says finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem’s decision not to compensate shareholders is a ‘significant infringement of their property rights’ and should be tested by the Council of State. 

The VEB says SNS Reaal’s management board and the supervisory board  are primarily responsible for company’s financial difficulties. It also wants the role of company accountant KPMG and the Dutch central bank to be looked at.

According to the NRC, the Council of State has also received dozens of appeals from individual shareholders following the nationalisation.

Dijsselbloem said shareholders should not be helped out financially because they would have lost their investments anyway if the bank was allowed to go bankrupt.

The VEB also considers it right to test the Intervention Act in court, given this is the first time it has been applied. Expropriating property from private citizens is such a far-reaching infringement of citizens’ rights that its legitimacy should be subjected to an independent, legal assessment.

There are also serious side issues associated with the decision to expropriate the shares, a decision which rests on a new valuation of the property portfolio of SNS Property Finance. A second opinion would be appropriate.

In addition, the expropriation has implications for any claim rights which former shareholders and subordinated bondholders may have towards the company and its executives, such as mismanagement or misinformation.