Sunday 22 May 2022

Big Dutch banks put dividends on hold as shareholders urge caution on payouts

Rabobank’s headquarters in Utrecht. Photo: Depositphotos.com

The big three Dutch banks – Rabobank, ING and ABN Amro – said on Monday they would not be paying any dividends to shareholders until later in the year at the earliest.

ING and and ABN Amro both said in statements that they were suspending dividends until October 1 at least, while Rabobank said it would not make any payments to certificate holders in March, June and September.

In addition, ABN Amro said that it expected to post a loss in the first quarter of the year, partly due to an ‘incidental loss‘ at its clearing division stemming from a US client.

On Saturday, a number of institutional shareholders, including pension funds and insurance companies, called on companies to delay or scrap dividends because of the economic impact coronavirus is having.

‘Dividends are sacred to very many of our members, but these are unusual times,’ Paul Koster, head of shareholders lobby group VEB told the Financieele Dagblad. ‘No-one knows how long this situation will last and how it will pan out.’

‘Paying dividends does not contribute to the stability of companies and that is what is needed in volatile times,’ Eloy Lindeijer, investment chief at health service pension fund PGGM, told the paper.

On Friday, the European central bank called on banks to scrap dividend payments until the autumn, a move supported by the Dutch central bank.

Airlines

Meanwhile, state-owned Schiphol Airport Group, which owns Schiphol, Rotterdam and Eindhoven airports, said on Monday that it was withdrawing its February 14 forecast of rise in net profit this year.

If air travel resumes in June, the number of passengers moving through Schiphol alone will be down 26% on a year ago, the airport group said.

British budget airline Easyjet, which has a major European hub at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, said on Monday it is stopping all commercial flights for the time being.

Over the past few days the airline has carried out more than 650 flights to bring stranded holidaymakers back home, Easyjet said.

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