Key target shareholder cool on Dutch bid

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The Independent Online
A KEY shareholder in Banque Bruxelles Lambert yesterday poured cold water on the proposed bid from ING, a Dutch banking and insurance conglomerate.

Officials of Groupe Bruxelles Lambert appeared unconvinced that an alliance with a foreign rather than domestic firm was the best route for Belgium's second biggest commercial bank. They indicated that they did not yet consider the proposed ING offer price of BFr3,600 ( pounds 64) a share to be satisfactory.

GBL, a holding company chaired by Albert Frere, owns over 13 per cent of BBL and controls another 10 per cent. It is believed to be the most important investor that ING must win over.

The proposed bid is part of a long-standing ING strategy to create a single business that sells both banking and insurance services. ING is itself the product of a merger between a large Dutch bank and an insurance company. If its plans for BBL succeed, the result would be the world's biggest banking and insurance group.

ING set a bid in train on Wednesday when it announced its wish to buy the 6.7 per cent of BBL's equity that is held by two Italian companies. Its conditional offer, which would be paid for in cash and financed by the issue of preference shares, values the Belgian bank at some BFr64bn.

BBL's main attraction lies in its network of almost 1,000 branches in Belgium, adjacent to territory that the Dutch bidder already knows well.

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