NETHERLANDS - The €209bn (US$280bn) ABP fund has refused to reveal the extent of its losses in failed banking and insurance giant Fortis, following a misplaced bet which saw it up its stake just weeks before the firm's shares plunged in value.
While the spokesman said ABP had since decreased its interest in Fortis, he would not reveal its current holdings.
He said: "It is our policy not to disclose our holdings on a daily basis. We do this on a yearly (year-end) basis."
Sources in the Netherlands told Global Pensions the losses were likely to be large. One said: "This is a huge loss for ABP. Fortis has drastically deteriorated and this smells like lost money."
On Tuesday, Fortis shares, which had already suffered big declines, plunged 60% as the bank re-listed itself as a stripped-down insurer, just one week after it was forced to sell its main business to the Dutch, Luxembourg and Belgian authorities.
It is understood more than 7,000 Fortis shareholders, including ABP, had signed up to sue the company's management for allegedly misleading them and agreeing to the sale without consulting them.
In a statement released on 14 October, Fortis said: "Like many financial institutions, [Fortis] has been confronted with a systematic financial crisis of ever-growing, unparalleled proportions.
"Faced with this situation of mounting crisis and the need for immediate resolute action, and given the role and responsibilities of the governments, Fortis had to safeguard the interest of all stakeholders by ensuring that the operations of its large banking and insurance units would continue to function."
It added: "As a result of these steps, Fortis has undergone a complete metamorphosis."
Earlier this year, Global Pensions reported ABP had called on Fortis to alter its governance structure to make the organisation more efficient (www.globalpensions.com; 6 August 2008).
Global Pensions also contacted the Dutch pensions regulator De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), however, a spokesman said DNB could not comment on individual pension fund investments. Fortis also declined to comment.
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