Brussels Appeals Court Freezes Fortis Deal

A Belgian appeals court on Friday froze several major deals made by the former Belgian-Dutch bank Fortis NV in October to ward off bankruptcy, Dutch media reported. Dutch national broadcaster NOS said the Brussels Appeals Court reversed earlier decisions upholding the sale of Fortis' operations in the Netherlands to the Dutch state, and Belgian operations to the Belgian state. The deals were not put to shareholders for approval as required under Dutch and Belgian law for transactions involving major operations, and shareholder groups later sued. The governments and Fortis' management argued there was no alternative, as an outright failure was imminent anyway and the countries' financial systems were in danger of breaking down if Fortis had failed. Lower courts in Belgium and the Netherlands agreed in initial rulings. The decision threw into question the status of the countries' largest banks. NOS said it will be contested by the Dutch and Belgian governments. Read more.