Page last updated at 23:54 GMT, Monday, 15 December 2008

Belgium to fight Fortis verdict

Fortis bank HQ
Fortis was rescued with government money at the end of September

The Belgian government plans to appeal against a court ruling that may stop it from breaking up Fortis bank.

On Friday a Brussels appeal court ruled in favour of 2,200 shareholders who wanted more say in the bank's future.

The ruling froze the sale of most of Fortis to France's BNP Paribas, which was supposed to be completed this week.

Shareholders were left with practically worthless stakes after the governments of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg stepped in to rescue Fortis.

Fortis shares have been suspended for two days pending a statement on the financial impact of the ruling.

A shareholder meeting on Friday 19 December in Brussels was supposed to be voting on the sale to BNP Paribas.

Cash injections

Fortis was among the banks worst-hit by the credit crunch, which left it desperately short of cash and needing help from the three governments.

The governments took stakes in Fortis of just under 50% in exchange for the cash injections they provided at the end of September.

The court ruled that a panel of five experts should review whether that should have happened.

The ruling also said that the shareholders must be given a say in the break-up of the bank by 12 February, although the Belgian government will ask the Supreme Court to overturn that.

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