Friday, March 27, 2015 - 12:33
Bank exec salary hike freezes ABN Amro sale
Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem of Finance has decided to postpone the planned sale of ABN Amro due to the recent turmoil surrounding the salary increases for the bank's executives, De Gelderlander reports. Dijsselbloem previously told the Tweede Kamer that the decision about ABN Amro's IPO would be made before April 1st. Dijsselbloem wrote to the Tweede Kamer (lower house of parliament) that he has postponed the decision of the sale in light of all the parliamentary questions and comments regarding the salary increases. He wants to first answer all the questions and then have a parliamentary debate before the decision is made. Dijsselbloem called the salary increases a wrong signal, but said that that, legally or politically, there is nothing to be done about it. The salary increase at ABN Amro was agreed on in 2012 and both the then Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager and the Tweede Kamer approved it. Dijsselbloem previously looked at whether the fixed salaries could be capped, but decided against it after a negative opinion from the Council of State. He did, however, suggest that the Tweede Kamer should consider strengthening the legislation if the salaries go through the roof again. ABN Amor took note of Dijsselbloem's decision to postpone the sale of the nationalized bank. "That's up to him. We continue to wait." a spokesperson for the bank told De Gelderlander. He reiterated that the bank is ready for the stock market, but Dijsselbloem will determine the timing. "The minister is in the lead. If he says we go, we go. Otherwise not." The reactions on the decision from the Tweede Kamer seem mostly positive. "The PvdA finds Minister Dijsselbloem's decision to be the right one." said PvdA parliamentarian Henk Nijboer. "The bank's top does not meet the new sober and servile culture which is necessary for a healthy financial sector. For the PvdA postponing the decision to divest ABN has therefore become inevitable." "I understand Dijssebloem's decision. There was so much criticism and moral outrage in the Tweede Kamer and it is good that a debate will first be conducted." said D66 parliamentarian Wouter Koolmees. "I just do not know what the consequences are of this delay. What is the time frame that the minister now has in mind for the IPO?" SP parliamentarian Arnold Merkies agrees that it is a good thing that no decision was made while there are still so many questions about the "irresponsible behavior" of the ABN executives. CDA parliamentarian Pieter Omtzigt wants immediate clarification. "The CDA wants immediate answers on the parliamentary questions about the salary increases at ABN Amro. Last week we had very good reason to think that the increases were partially illegal." he said. "Now that Dijsselbloem points to the questions as a reason for postponement, there should be immediate clarification on whether it is allowed and who gave consent."