BNP Paribas to buy the Belgium's 25% stake in BNP Paribas Fortis for $4.36 bn

BNP Paribas yesterday said that it would buy Belgium's 25 per cent stake in BNP Paribas Fortis for €3.25 billion ($4.36 billion).

The Belgian government will make a capital gain of about €900 million following the closing of the deal, the French bank and the Belgian government said in a joint statement.

The sale proceeds will be used by the Belgian government to reduce its debt.

Fortis Bank Belgium (now BNP Paribas Fortis), a former Dutch-Belgian financial giant, was bailed out by the Belgian and Dutch governments in September 2008 when the global financial crisis devastated most of the European and US banks.

The Belgian government invested more than €2 billion into Fortis Bank and took a 25 per cent stake, while BNP Paribas took a 75 per cent stake.

Post deal, BNP Paribas Fortis will become fully owned by BNP Paribas, but the Belgian government will retain its 10.3 per cent stake in BNP Paribas, and continue to be the French bank's largest single shareholder.

Jean-Laurent Bonnafe, CEO of BNP Paribas, said, ''The partnership with the Belgian state brought the stability that was needed for the integration to occur in the best conditions for the employees and the clients of the bank and we are grateful to the Belgian state, which also remains one of our major shareholders, for this collaboration. We will continue to develop BNP Paribas Fortis in accordance with the principles that have been ours during the integration phase, both in labour matters and in terms of support to the economy.''

Herman Daems, chairman of the board of directors of BNP Paribas Fortis, said, ''The integration with BNP Paribas has been beneficial for all of our stakeholders. Our shareholder BNP Paribas fully supports our strategy to the service of our clients and this transaction does not in any way affect our commitment towards them and towards the Belgian economy.''