(Adds details from statement, valuation)
By Robert-Jan Bartunek
BRUSSELS May 3 Belgium will sell a quarter of
the stake it holds in French financial group BNP Paribas
, but is keen to keep a strategic share in the group,
the country's finance ministry said on Wednesday.
The country, which acquired the stake in 2008 as a result of
a bailout of Belgian group Fortis, said it would bring back its
stake in BNP Paribas to 7.8 percent from 10.3 percent
On the basis of Wednesday's closing price, the shares are
worth about 2.06 billion euros ($2.25 billion), though the
finance ministry said it would know the exact amount at a later
stage, without giving more details.
Belgium bought Fortis in 2008 for 9.4 billion euros ($10.26
billion) and sold 75 percent to BNP Paribas in exchange for
shares. Fortis ran into trouble after paying a top-of-the-market
24 billion euros to buy the Dutch operations of ABN AMRO just
before the credit crunch and the global financial crisis.
The Belgian finance ministry called the partial sale the
"best of two worlds".
"I want to stress that only a part of the stake was sold
because we continue to value the long term strategic holding in
BNP Paribas, given the economic importance of this bank in our
country," Finance Minister Johan van Overtveldt said in a
Lazard and Allen & Overy advised Belgium on the deal.
($1 = 0.9163 euros)
(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek, editing by Robin Emmott)