Court freezes Fortis carve-up

Shareholders in Dutch-Belgian financial services group Fortis have won a court injunction temporarily halting the carve-up of the company.

The Brussels appeal court on Friday ruled that Fortis must seek shareholder approval for the sale of assets to the Dutch and Belgian governments, and BNP Paribas for some €27bn.
The court decision freezes all decisions taken by Fortis’ board in early October when Fortis Nederland was nationalised by the Dutch government and most of the Belgian assets were sold to BNP. The court has also set up a panel of five experts who will prepare for a shareholders meeting by February 12.
‘This is a major victory for shareholders that have been deprived of their most essential rights,’ Mischael Modrikamen, the lawyer representing some 2,000 small Fortis shareholders told news agency Bloomberg.
A spokesman for Dutch finance minister Wouter Bos said that the minister believed that the Belgian court ruling had no consquences for the Dutch position.
‘The deal has been done. If Fortis shareholders don’t agree, that is between Fortis and its shareholders. We are not involved,’ the spokesman said.

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