ABN Amro makes record re­turn to Dutch bourse

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

THE HAGUE: Seven years af­ter na­tion­al­iza­tion, ABN Amro bounced back onto the stock mar­ket yes­ter­day with shares ris­ing in what is seen as one of the big­gest IPOs by a Euro­pean lender since the fi­nan­cial cri­sis. Top bank of­fi­cials clapped and cheered at the Am­s­ter­dam stock ex­change as the share price climbed steadily in early trad­ing. Chair­man of the bank’s board, Ger­rit Zalm, rang the gong sym­bol­i­cally mark­ing the start of trad­ing.

“We are back, and that’s great,” he said, adding his bank was “solid, and of­fered an at­trac­tive yield.” “The process has gone well,” agreed Dutch Fi­nance Min­is­ter Jeroen Di­js­sel­bloem, hail­ing the re­turn to the mar­ket of the coun­try’s third largest bank.

It marks a new era for the institution af­ter a trou­bled patch trig­gered by the 2008 cri­sis. The Dutch gov­ern­ment, which led the bailout dur­ing the tu­mult of the fi­nan­cial melt­down, is hop­ing to re­coup some of the 22 bil­lion eu­ros spent prop­ping up the bank. Some two hours af­ter open­ing 2.30 per­cent up at 18.18 per­cent, shares con­sol­i­dated early gains set­tling at around 18.36 eu­ros, up some 3.44 per­cent.

Ini­tially, the price per share had been fixed at be­tween 16 to 20 eu­ros. But ABN Amro said in a state­ment early Fri­day that the price had been set at 17.75 eu­ros a share.

That will raise some 3.3 bil­lion eu­ros ($3.5 bil­lion), the bank said in a joint state­ment with the state ad­min­is­tra­tors of the offering, adding it priced ABN Amro’s cur­rent value at 16.7 bil­lion eu­ros. The gov­ern­ment was mon­i­tor­ing care­fully yes­ter­day’s IPO, Di­js­sel­bloem said. “Nat­u­rally we want to see a small up­wards move­ment, so there is no dis­ap­point­ment. As you know we have an­other 80 per­cent of the shares to sell,” he added.

ABN Amro has con­firmed that a fur­ther 3.0 per­cent share is avail­able and “can be ex­er­cised to cover over-al­lot­ments or short po­si­tions” if there is a high de­mand. “It’s a suc­cess­ful IPO,” an­a­lyst Jos Ver­steeg, from the Dutch bank Theodoor Gilis­sen, told AFP.

“It has been prop­erly han­dled. And it’s a good price per share,” he said, adding an­a­lysts did not see much room for big fu­ture price move­ment. To avoid all the shares be­ing snapped up by ma­jor in­vest­ment funds and other in­sti­tu­tional in­vestors, ABN Amro held back 10 per­cent for in­di­vid­ual buy­ers in the Nether­lands. Al­though the gov­ern­ment has said the bailout cost it around 22 bil­lion eu­ros, its main au­dit body es­ti­mated the true price tag at about 32 bil­lion eu­ros, Dutch me­dia has re­ported.

Trou­bled years The Nether­lands’ third-largest bank be­hind ING and Rabobank, ABN Amro traces its roots back to the 19th cen­tury. It was listed on the Am­s­ter­dam stock ex­change be­fore be­ing bought in 2007 by a con­sor­tium con­sist­ing of Span­ish lender San­tander, the Royal Bank of Scot­land and the Bel­gian-Dutch out­fit For­tis. But the 71 bil­lion-euro-deal, one of the largest in bank­ing history, proved calami­tous for the three buy­ers.

Royal Bank of Scot­land is now 73 per­cent owned by the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment af­ter a £45.5 bil­lion ($71 bil­lion, 53 bil­lion euro) res­cue in 2008.

For­tis was also dis­man­tled dur­ing 2008 to avoid bank­ruptcy. Its Dutch ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing its share in ABN Amro, were bailed out by the Dutch gov­ern­ment, which then merged it back into ABN Amro Bank, and it has held the reins ever since. To­day ABN Amro is largely a com­mer­cial bank fo­cus­ing sig­nif­i­cantly on the highly com­pet­i­tive mort­gage mar­ket. — AFP

Mil­i­tary vet­eran Mark Can­non, of Miami (right) talks with Cyn­thia Car­cillo, a veter­ans out­reach rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Ca­reer Source Broward, about em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties at a job fair for veter­ans, in Pem­broke Pines. The La­bor Depart­ment re­ported on Thurs­day that fewer Amer­i­cans sought un­em­ploy­ment aid a week ear­lier, fresh ev­i­dence that com­pa­nies are con­fi­dent enough in the econ­omy to hold onto their work­ers. — AP

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