EU sets Oct. 2 deadline for ABN remedy talks

September 21, 2009

AMSTERDAM, Sept 21 (Reuters) – European Union antitrust regulators are in discussions with the Dutch state over the stalled sales of assets from nationalised bank ABN AMRO under a deal mandated by the European Commission, the Dutch Finance Ministry said on Monday.

The deadline for the talks is now set for Oct. 2, a spokeswoman for the ministry said.

Last week, Deutsche Bank backed out of talks
to buy assets from ABN. When a group including Fortis struck a deal to buy ABN AMRO Group and carve it up in 2007, the EU ordered Fortis to sell a bundle of Dutch ABN AMRO assets to tackle competition concerns.

Fortis struck a deal to sell that package to Deutsche Bank for around 700 million euros ($1 billion). After Fortis’s Dutch operations and ABN were taken over by the Dutch state, the government halted the deal to try to negotiate better terms.

“We will look both at bank operations of ABN AMRO as well as Fortis to comply with the remedy,” the spokeswoman said.

“This is an extension of the divestment period which we had requested. The Commission has agreed to it,” she added.

The old deadline was Sept. 4.
A European Commission spokesman declined to comment.
Deutsche Bank and the Dutch Finance Ministry have been negotiating on a revised deal for months with no success. The bundle at stake included commercial bank HBU, 13 advisory branches and two corporate client units.

The European Commission is tasked with ensuring fair play in the 27-country European Union.

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