Friday 13 December 2019

Dutch finance minister delays ABN Amro sale after executive pay rise row

abn amro logoFinance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem has delayed the sale of nationalised bank ABN Amro because of the commotion over executive pay.

Dijsselbloem was due to announce the date for the IPO this month and insiders expected the launch would be before the summer.

However, the row over the bank’s decision to give €100,000 pay rises to senior executives to get around the new limit on bonuses has now prompted a rethink. In a three sentence letter to parliament, the minister said he is delaying the sale because of all the questions he has been asked by the finance committee.

ABN Amro said in a reaction the timing is ‘up to the minister’.

Fury

MPs and customers reacted furiously to the pay rises. Dijsselbloem said at the time he regretted the situation but was powerless to act.

Commentators said the decision to delay the IPO is a sign of Dijsselbloem’s anger and a clear signal to the bank itself.

ABN Amro was nationalised in 2008 following its takeover by a consortium of other banks. The state hopes to earn €15bn from the sale, less than half the total bill for its rescue.

Morality

Questioned by reporters later on Friday Dijsselbloem said he needed time to discuss the latest events with ministers and MPs. ‘Such a major decision requires calm and confidence,’ he said.

However, according to website nu.nl, he would not appeal to the ABN Amro board to reject their pay rises.

‘I spoke to them about this last year and they made it clear they are not prepared to. It is up to them to reach their own conclusions about the criticism,’ he is quoted as saying.

‘It is a question of morality,’ he said. ‘Do they think it is responsible when bank workers have had their pay frozen for years and thousands have lost or are losing their jobs?’

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