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Saturday, 24 August 2013 00:00

Government prepares loss-making sale of bailout bank

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced plans today to sell off the nationalised ABN Amro bank at a considerable loss to the Dutch taxpayer.

Amro was nationalised in October 2008 amid the worldwide bank bailouts.

The bank is now worth around £13bn after an aggressive restructuring that saw savage job-cuts and the sale of foreign units in favour of the domestic market.

But Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said today that the government had "invested" around £19 billion in saving the firm.

And Amro boss Gerrit Zalm has warned that bad loans are rising due to the Dutch recession, which has now passed the one-year mark.

"A growing number of businesses that managed to weather the decline are now reaching the end of their reserves," he said.

"We expect loan impairments for 2013 to rise above last year's level as the economic conditions in the Netherlands are set to remain challenging for the remainder of 2013."

He added that mortgage defaults, which set off the 2008 credit crunch and started the recession, are also rising.

Mr Dijsselbloem did not explain why a sell-off that would inevitably cost the taxpayer billions of euros was being undertaken at such an unfavourable time.

Despite the recession, the government is set to announce a new round of austerity measures next month in an attempt to bring its budget deficit below 3 per cent.

But even the government's own independent Bureau for Economic Analysis says that spending cuts will likely do more harm than good.

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