European leaders agree on Dexia 'break up'

Rescue plan approved by France, Belgium and Luxembourg likely to pave way for dismantling the troubled bank.

    The French and Belgian prime ministers finalised the plan for Dexia at a meeting in Brussels [Reuters]

    France, Belgium and Luxembourg have agreed to a rescue plan for Dexia ahead of a planned board meeting expected to decide on a break-up of the first lender to fall victim to the euro zone crisis.

    "The governments... have reaffirmed their solidarity in finding a solution to secure the future of Dexia," said a statement on Sunday from the office of Yves Leterme, Belgium's caretaker prime minister.

    The stricken Franco-Belgian bank's board will review the deal later in the day.

    Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer, reporting from Berlin, said the plan is likely to be accepted by the bank's board. 

    "It is pretty much a done deal," he said.

    France and Belgium became part owners of the bank during a 6bn euro ($7.8bn) bailout in 2008. Luxembourg holds a smaller stake. They have promised to ensure that no Dexia depositors lose money.

    After Dexia's shares plunged last week due to fears it could go bankrupt, the French and Belgian governments stepped in and guaranteed its financing and deposits.

    Debt exposure

    The bank said in a statement on Friday that trading in its shares would remain frozen until it could "communicate more precisely on the various choices and options concerning the future of the group".

    The bank has significant exposure to Greek debt, and there are fears Greece may default in some fashion.

    Finding a solution is particularly urgent for Belgium because Moody's Investors Service on Friday placed the country's Aa1 rating on review for possible downgrade, due in part to the expected expense of guaranteeing that Dexia's depositors will lose no money.

    The bank's near collapse has added to investors' worries about the solidity of European banks and has coincided with increased European Union talk about co-ordinated action to recapitalise banks across the continent.

    Banks face a $198bn capital shortfall under a base case and a $303bn shortfall under a stressed scenario, according to analysts at JPMorgan.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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