Financial Regulatory Forum

EU Commission throws WestLB aid, bad bank into doubt

BRUSSELS, Dec 22 (Reuters) – The European Commission said it doubts that WestLB’s plans to set up Germany’s first “bad bank” complies with EU rules on state aid, granting only temporary clearance for the rescue plan.

“I am surprised about the level of the additional aid required and will make sure that the new aid is fully compatible with EU state aid rules,” Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Commission said it doubted the measures taken by the German government to rescue the stricken lender were compatible with state aid rules for impaired asset relief.

It would open an in-depth investigation into the plan, under which WestLB is receiving capital of 3 billion euros ($4.29 billion) from Germany, the European Union executive said.

For now, approval was given only to ensure financial stability, it added.

In a separate statement, the German finance ministry said it had no doubts the measures would be given the green light, adding that the EU’s investigation was part of the “usual legal assessment procedure for state aid”.

EU “cookie-cutter” bank overhaul policy under fire

European Commissioner in charge of Competition Neelie Kroes delivers a speech at a conference on State Aid Private Enforcement in Brussels October 19, 2009. REUTERS/Sebastien Pirlet    By Edward Taylor and Kirstin Ridley
FRANKFURT/LONDON, Nov 3 (Reuters) – Neelie Kroes’s campaign to shrink banks and launch vast asset sales has angered bankers, who accuse the firebrand European competition commissioner of kicking the industry when it’s down.Investment bankers close to some of the bailed-out lenders blame Kroes for undermining attempts to rebuild the once-lucrative industry by forcing massive, near-simultaneous asset sales, while banning acquisitions.

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EU clears Northern Rock break-up plan, paves way for sale

A woman is reflected as she passes a branch of Northern Rock in London August 4, 2009. (File Photo).  REUTERS/Luke MacGregor   (BRITAIN BUSINESS)  By Foo Yun Chee and Clara Ferreira-Marques
BRUSSELS/LONDON, Oct 28 (Reuters) – European Union
regulators have approved a UK government plan to break up
state-owned mortgage bank Northern Rock, in a move that clears the way for the sale of key parts of the battered lender.

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EU’s Kroes wants courts to tackle illegal state aid

European Commissioner in charge of Competition Neelie Kroes delivers a speech at a conference on State Aid Private Enforcement in Brussels October 19, 2009. Germany has assured GM and the Opel Trust that its 4.5 billion euros ($6.70 billion) offer in financial aid for Opel is not tied to the choice of an investor or a plan, European Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said on Monday. Kroes raised concerns in a letter to the German government last week about German government aid that is to be provided to Opel under a planned sale of the carmaker to Canada's Magna. REUTERS/Sebastien Pirlet  (BELGIUM POLITICS BUSINESS TRANSPORT) BRUSSELS, Oct 19 (Reuters) – The European Union’s antitrust chief urged national courts on Monday to play a bigger role in combating illegal state aid from EU governments to companies.

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NEWSMAKER-EU state aid experts mix pragmatism, tough talk

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS, Oct 16 (Reuters) – Neelie Kroes, the European Union antitrust czar, has picked two high-fliers with a wealth of financial and state aid experience to help restructure Europe’s banking landscape in the wake of the credit crisis.

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Dutch get two weeks to finish ABN asset sale

European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes speaks at a news conference at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels July 8, 2009. (file photo) By Ben Berkowitz and Gilbert Kreijger
AMSTERDAM, Oct 2 (Reuters) – The European Commission on Friday gave the Dutch government a surprise extension of time to sell portions of nationalised bank ABN AMRO, about two weeks after a sale fell apart and just three hours before what had been regarded as a firm deadline.

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EU’s Kroes says Lloyds bank needs to shrink presence

BRUSSELS, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Partially-nationalised British
bank Lloyds needs to shrink its activities in areas
where it is currently dominant to compensate for taking billions
of pounds in state aid, the European Union’s antitrust chief
said.

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Brussels’ tough line to force Europe bank shake-up

A pedestrian passes the head office of the Lloyds Banking Group in central London August 5, 2009. By Steve Slater and Foo Yun Chee
LONDON/BRUSSELS, Sept 18 (Reuters) – Europe’s banks face a shakeout as a result of the European Commission flexing its muscles over state aid that the sector gratefully accepted to survive a financial crisis.

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