Dutch finance ministry talks with Deutsche about ABN remedy

By Reuters Staff
October 5, 2009

AMSTERDAM, Oct 5 (Reuters) – The Dutch Finance Ministry and Deutsche Bank are still in talks to meet an EU competition remedy that would allow a merger between state-owned ABN AMRO and Fortis Bank Nederland, the ministry said on Monday.

The European Commission gave the Dutch government, which nationalised Dutch ABN AMRO and Fortis operations last year, an extension late Friday night to close an asset sale deal because of an “imminent” transaction with a “large international bank”.

The ABN AMRO assets to be sold are the same ones Deutsche Bank was in talks to buy until Sept. 17, when talks between the ministry and bank broke off.

When asked if the Dutch Finance Ministry was also in talks with French bank BNP Paribas about a possible deal to meet the EU remedy, a ministry spokeswoman said: “We have made a proposal (to the European Commission) with possibilities. That’s all I can say for now.”

She repeated her answer when asked if the ministry was talking to any other parties.

A source close to the negotiations told Reuters last week the state was considering a sale of Fortis Bank Nederland’s commercial banking arm instead of the ABN AMRO assets, possibly to BNP Paribas

Without an approved asset sale the Dutch government cannot merge ABN AMRO with Fortis Bank Nederland. Its plan is to conduct such a merger and then sell the combined entity to the public sometime in 2011 or later.

ABN said earlier on Monday that the EU extension provided “scope to continue working on the alternatives for complying with the remedy”. Fortis Bank Nederland issued a similar statement.

ABN AMRO also said preparations for the integration of Fortis Bank NL with ABN AMRO could continue.

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