Dutch state to sell off ABN Amro in initial public offering

AP News
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Posted: Oct 27, 2015 4:41 AM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Seven years after saving it from collapse, the Dutch government announced Tuesday it is selling nationalized bank ABN Amro through an initial public listing that could be launched in the last three months of the year.

ABN Amro said the exact timing of the IPO depends on market conditions. Financial details of the offering have not yet been set.

In a letter to Parliament, Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said analysts will now begin gauging investor sentiment to arrive at a target share price and decide the size of the first offering.

The Dutch state spent 21.7 billion euros to save the bank when it was nationalized in 2008 together with the Dutch operations of one of its would-be acquirers, Belgium's now-defunct Fortis NV, in a takeover bid that went horribly wrong.

ABN Amro has since gone through an aggressive restructuring, including slashing jobs and selling off foreign units.

"Today's announcement marks an important step toward our new future," said the chairman of the bank's board, Gerrit Zalm.

The re-privatization of ABN Amro had been expected earlier this year, but the government delayed it amid anger at pay rises given to the bank's directors.

In March, ABN Amro announced that most of its directors had received pay rises of just over 100,000 euros per year to compensate for the fact that they were banned from receiving bonuses after the bank's nationalization.

ABN Amro had underlying net profit of 1.14 billion euros in the first half of the year, up from 700 million euros in the same period a year earlier.