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Fortis shareholders' case rejected

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Fortis shareholders' case rejected

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A Belgian court has rejected a claim that the state dismantling of Fortis violated shareholder’s rights. However it decided that a panel of experts should examine the rescue of the troubled financial group.

The experts will give an opinion on whether the price paid by French bank BNP Paribas was fair.

Angry investors had asked the Brussels commercial court to block or put on hold last month’s carve-up of Fortis by the governments of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. The small shareholders have seen the value of their investment drop dramatically. Since the start of the year the share price has dropped by 96 percent. They are now worth less than one euro. Lawyers representing 2,000 shareholders in the case plan to launch an appeal. But one plaintiff was happy at the appointment of experts to determine the value of the assets. He said: “We can’t sort out the problem ourselves, so it should be given to people more qualified than us.”

Fortis was split up by the governments in October, after an 11.2 billion euro cash injection failed to calm investor concerns. BNP Paribas is buying the group’s Belgian operations. The court ruling should clear the way to complete that transaction.