The decision to be involved in the takeover of ABN Amro was ‘strategically and operationally’ the right decision, Fortis executives told shareholders at an information evening on Monday night.
Fortis is one of three banks which bought ABN Amro for a record €72bn last year.
But chairman Maurice Lippens was highly critical of EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes for forcing Fortis to sell off some parts of the biggest Dutch bank. ‘We tried everything. Other companies manage to get an extension… but it was no,’ Lippens was quoted as saying. Fortis made a book loss of €300m on the divestments.
The meeting was called following shareholder disquiet over recent events at the financial services group, including the surprise decision to launch a €8bn exercise to strengthen its balance sheet. Fortis’ share price has fallen 70% since the beginning of this year.
Around 100 shareholders were at the Amsterdam meeting, news agency ANP reported. Similar meetings are being held in Brussels later this week.
Some shareholders were extremely emotional, ANP reports. ‘This scandal has really hurt me. I hope that Fortis is divided up and its name disappears,’ one shareholder was quoted as saying.
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