Despite plans to complete the acquisition of ABN AMRO by a consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland, Fortis Group is still in the dark about the future of its leasing and factoring businesses.
The European Commission has given the go-ahead to Fortis to pursue its takeover plans, but still may force the group to forgo its leasing and factoring business, the latter of which sits in the Belgium bank’s commercial and private banking division.
The Commission found that these businesses may have to be offloaded, along with commercial and retail banking, asset management and insurance, because they overlap with ABN AMRO’s existing Dutch, private client and asset management businesses.
According to a statement by the EC: “The Commission had concerns that as a result of the transaction corporate customers with a turnover of €2.5 million to €250 million would face less competition between banks.”
To address the commission’s concerns, Fortis is committed to divesting a corporate banking business, consisting of Hollandsche Bank Unie NV (HBU), two corporate client departments, and ABN AMRO’s Dutch factoring activities to a large international bank.
Furthermore, the EC’s decision is pursuant to Fortis’ closing “the sale of the Divestment Business to a suitable purchaser,” the statement said.
A Fortis Lease spokesperson said: “It is too early to say at this stage what will be done and what will not be done. We are still in the preparatory phase and have to wait from the authorities for the final word.” The decision is scheduled to be made on October 31, just after Leasing Life went to press.
Last month this magazine revealed that Royal Bank of Scotland is planning to sell its rail finance business, Angel Trains, in order to raise money for its purchase of ABN AMRO.
In recent weeks Fortis Lease UK completed its first leisure leasing deals, a market it plans to enter more heavily in forthcoming months.