FRANCE- BNP Paribas believes Fortis shareholders who blocked its acquisition of the troubled bank have changed their stance and BNP will be able to successfully negotiate a deal by the March 6 deadline.
Speaking in London, he added: "We are close to a deal."
Anastassiades said if the acquisition goes through, BNP plans to keep the bank in Belgium and added there were overlaps between the two firm's asset management capabilities.
He said Fortis, for example, had a €12bn (US$15.4bn) multi-manager business while BNP IP's FundQuest had around £30bn (US$42.3bn) in multi-management assets.
Anastassiades said: "They have a process which is similar to ours…We don't expect a problem in merging."
However, he declined to provide assurances for Fortis staff that there would not be redundancies - stating BNP would need to take a much closer look at Fortis' operations before it could comment.
He said: "We have ideas [of where there is overlap] but we cannot disclose that."
Despite the prolonged negotiations, Anastassiades said he does not expect the terms of the Fortis deal to change. BNP had offered €15bn for Fortis.
He said: "I don't think the Belgian government has many alternatives. They are stuck between a rock and a hard spot. Obviously the Belgian government doesn't want to manage a large bank."
He added: "We are close to making a decision. Hopefully positive...but I do not discount the possibility that it could be negative."
If BNP Paribas succeeds in purchasing Fortis, BNPP IP will be catapulted to the slot of the fifth largest asset manager in Europe, up from ninth. The combined unit will have some €500bn in assets under management. (Global Pensions, 27 February, 2009) .
Ping An - the Chinese insurer and largest Fortis shareholder - voted against the deal in February, according to media reports. The €200bn (US$250.7bn) Dutch scheme investment manager APG - which is believed to hold some 50 million shares in Fortis - abstained from the vote. (Global Pensions, 12 February 2009)
Officials at Ping An could not be reached for comment. APG spokesman Michel Meijs said "we follow developments with a lot of interest" but did not provide further details. Fortis Holdings spokeswoman Kathleen Steel said: "We are waiting for news."
BNPP IP has a history of growing through acquisitions - and now boasts 19 investment partners that manage some €305bn in assets.
In a separate interview with Global Pensions, BNPP IP deputy chief executive Philippe Marchessaux said the firm is continuing to search for attractive acquisition opportunities.
Marchessaux said: "We want to develop our partnerships more and the crisis gives us that opportunity." He declined to name the firms BNPP IP is targeting.
Marchessaux said he sees potential to grow BNPP IP's offerings in the US and sees "high potential" to develop in Asia.
M J. Hosteaux, information officer at the Belgian ministry of finance, was unavailable for comment.
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