The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation under EC Treaty State aid rules to establish whether state measures in favour of Fortis Bank Nederland (FBN) and the activities of ABN Amro which were acquired by Fortis ("the ABN activities") are in line with EU State aid rules. On 3 October 2008, the Dutch state purchased FBN (previously a subsidiary of Fortis Bank) and provided it with loans amounting to tens of billion of euros allowing it to reimburse its short term debt to Fortis Bank. FBN was therefore effectively separated from Fortis Bank. On 24 December 2008, the Dutch state purchased the ABN activities from FBN. Without considering the ABN activities, FBN was the fourth largest bank on the Dutch retail and merchant market.
At this stage, the Commission has reason to believe that the measures may not be in line with its Communications on State aid to banks during the crisis. In particular, the temporal scope and remuneration of the loan facilities and the purchase price of the ABN activities do not seem to meet the criteria set by the Commission. The Commission is also in close contact with the Dutch authorities on the implementation of its merger decision in the Fortis/ABN AMRO case. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives interested parties an opportunity to comment on the proposed measure. It does not in any way prejudge the outcome of the procedure.