Shares suspended on Euronext
Fortis came into trouble partly by its ill-timed acquisition of the Dutch banking operations of ABN-Amro (it was part of the largest take-over in banking history). The shares have plunged over 70% since January.
For the remaining Fortis activities, a deal was announced Sunday evening. 75% of Fortis Belgium shares will be in French hands. The takeover will happen in two phases. First the Belgian government will buy all the remaining shares in Fortis Belgium for €4.7. Then the Belgian government will sell 75% of the shares to BNP Paribas. The Belgian government is keeping a 25% stake in Fortis' Belgian operations and Luxembourg will hold a 33% share in the bank's Luxembourg subsidiary.
This means that the Belgian government is becoming part shareholder in BNP Paribas. With 11% of the shares, it is a large shareholder.
Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme said that the minority stakes in BNP would give the governments the power to ensure that the French do not move to cut jobs at Fortis. The bank currently employs some 25,000 in Belgium.
BNP Paribas is taking over 100 percent of the insurance and investment activities of Fortis.
The take-over in figures
The French banking giant is acquiring 75 percent of Fortis Bank Belgium, 67 percent of Fortis Bank Luxembourg and 100 percent of Fortis Insurance Belgium.
The Belgian and Luxembourg governments are both minority shareholders with a blocking minority, respectively in Fortis Bank Belgium and Fortis Bank Luxembourg.
With the take-over the BNP Paribas group is acquiring 3 million Belgian clients and 1,458 offices in Belgium, Luxembourg and other countries such as Poland, Turkey and France.
BNP Paribas expects to finalise the transaction the end of the year or in the first quarter of 2009.
"A strong partner for Fortis"
Because BNP Paribas is hardly active in Belgium at the moment, the take-over is a good deal for the Fortis employees.
The government is also convinced that this is also a good solution for the small shareholders of Fortis.
BNP Paribas is giving sufficient guarantees: "The message is the same as last week: do not panic... BNP Paribas is giving very good guarantees: it wants a good network in Belgium."