ABN/Fortis CEO wants Belgian unit swap

The new CEO of the proposed ABN Amro and Fortis combine wants to sell off the commercial banking arm of Fortis Bank Nederland to Fortis Bank Belgium via an exchange deal, reports Friday’s Financieele Dagblad.

In return Gerrit Zalm wants the Belgians to hand over a number of units to the Dutch banking combine which was nationalised by the Dutch government last year.
‘We are looking again at the possibility of selling Fortis Commercial Banking,’ Zalm is quoted as saying in the paper.
However, the European Commission must move swiftly to give its approval to the proposed merger of ABN Amro and Fortis Bank Nederland – once it has reduced its share in the small and medium sized market, Zalm said.
Zalm’s proposal is sensitive in both the Netherlands and Belgium, says the FD. Fortis Bank Nederland has made it clear in the past that it is not enthusiastic about being split up. And Belgium feels the €16.8bn The Hague paid to nationalise the Dutch arm was too little.
Nevertheless Zalm is hopeful, the paper says. ‘They did not show us the door,’ he is quoted as saying.

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