Belgian PM resign over Fortis sale

Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme and his government resign amid a controversy over the sale of the financial service company Fortis.


Yves Leterme

On July 14, 2008, facing the imminent failure to meet a self imposed deadline to enact “constitutional reform” consisting of further devolution of powers to the nation’s three linguistic communities, Leterme tendered his resignation to King Albert II, the head of state.

On July 17, King Albert, after holding a flurry of consultations with leaders of political parties, labor unions, and the employers’ association, rejected Leterme’s resignation.

Instead, the king appointed a three person commission of representatives of the linguistic communities to investigate how to restart the reform process. The commission was to report to the king by July 31, 2008.

On December 19, 2008 he offered his resignation again to King Albert II after a crisis surrounding the sale of Fortis to BNP Paribas. On December 22, 2008 King Albert II accepted his resignation, along with that of his entire government. He remained Prime Minister while waiting for his successor to be appointed.

Fortis is a banking, insurance, and investment management company. In 2007 it was the 20th largest business in the world by revenue, but most of the company was sold in parts in 2008.

The Benelux countries were Fortis’ home base and its strength. Fortis’ banking operations included network (retail), commercial, and merchant banking; its insurance products included life, health, and property/casualty lines. Products were sold through independent agents and brokers, financial planners, and through Fortis Bank branches. It is listed on the Euronext Brussels, Euronext Amsterdam, and Luxembourg stock exchanges.

The name Fortis is still used by the sold parts. It will continue to be used for Belgian parts sold to BNP Paribas, but in the course of time the name will be abandoned in the Dutch parts.


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