Ageas in 1.2-B euro Fortis settlement


BRUSSELS: Belgian insurer Ageas announced on Monday a proposed 1.2 billion-euro settlement with shareholders to cover losses following the dismantlement of the Fortis bank insurance group during the 2008 financial crisis.

“Ageas agreed to pay a global amount of 1.204 billion euros ($1.338 billion) to eligible shareholders without admitting any wrongdoing,” it said in a statement issued in Brussels.

The Belgian-Dutch Fortis group was dismantled and partly nationalized in October 2008 during the global banking crisis, leading to its Dutch banking and insurance assets being nationalized by the Netherlands for 16.8 billion euros.

Its Belgian banking arm was taken over by French giant BNP Paribas, while the Belgian insurance section, Fortis Holding, was renamed Ageas in 2010.

Shareholders claim they lost millions of euros because the bank’s management lied to the markets and said Fortis was financially healthy in 2008 when in fact it was on the brink of collapse.

The shareholders afterwards launched a number of lawsuits in Belgium and the Netherlands to recover their losses.

Monday’s settlement is now to be formalized by the Amsterdam Appeals Court at a date not yet announced, Ageas said.

“Eligible shareholders will be able to estimate compensation based on available information but it is indicative only,” Ageas and claimants said on a combined website.

Once formalized by the court, shareholders will have between three to six months to register their claims with the whole process expected to take “at least 18 months,” they said.

“This agreement will help all parties draw a line under lengthy and complex legal proceedings marked by uncertainties in terms of timing and outcome,” Ageas added.



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