BNP ready to make Fortis takeover bid

September 29, 2008

, PARIS, September 29 – French bank BNP Paribas could buy troubled  Fortis bank, the French daily Le Figaro reported Sunday on its internet site.

"BNP Paribas appears best placed to take over all the Fortis group\’s operations," the newspaper said without citing sources.

"The transaction could exclude all ABN Amro operations which Fortis bought out last year," the report said.

The newspaper claimed secret negotiations were ongoing throughout the weekend and an announcement would be made shortly.

Earlier Sunday, a Dutch business newspaper\’s website reported that the Dutch bank ING had pulled out of negotiations to buy Fortis.

Members of the Belgian government met Sunday evening to discuss possible options to save the financial group.

Nationalisation is believed to be one option that politicians are considering to rescue Fortis, according to Dutch and Belgian media reports.

Fortis lost more than 2 billion euros (2.92 billion dollars) as a result of the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the United States.

Shares in the group have plunged on the news, sliding nearly 21 percent Friday to their lowest level in 15 years.

Fortis\’s market value stood late Friday at 13 billion euros — one third of what it was at the end of 2007.

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