Angry shareholders of Belgium group Fortis have rejected state-led deals to carve up the ailing financial services firm and sell off parts of it.
Meeting in Brussels they voted against the Netherlands government’s nationalisation of Fortis’ Dutch assets. Then, by a wafer-thin majority, they rejected the Belgian state’s takeover of Fortis Bank. The votes followed five hours of mostly heated debate with much shouting. The shareholders say the company is going too cheap and they want the deal renegotiated. Fortis – which has seen its share price collapse – had warned it could go bankrupt if the plan was rejected. It is massively in debt having lost 19 billion euros last year from mortgage related investments and its part in the disastrous multi-bank takeover of ABN Amro. The Belgian government did have France’s BNP Paribas lined up to buy 75 percent of Fortis Bank and part of the group’s Belgian insurance operations. The vote effectively blocks that deal and leaves Fortis in limbo with its future uncertain.