Belgium to Sell BNP Shares Worth $2.2 Billion as It Cuts Stake

(Bloomberg) -- Belgium sold about a quarter of its stake in BNP Paribas SA to raise cash, taking advantage of a rally in the stock as it neared a post-crisis high.

Belgium’s Federal Holding and Investment Company, SFPI-FPIM, offered about 31.2 million shares, representing roughly 2.5 percent of the French bank’s capital, according to terms seen by Bloomberg. They fetched 65.10 euros apiece, or 1.6 percent less than the stock’s closing price on Wednesday, amounting to about 2.03 billion euros ($2.2 billion) total.

Belgium became BNP’s largest investor in 2009 following the rescue and breakup of Fortis, which was the nation’s largest financial-services group before the global crisis hit. BNP Paribas took over Fortis’s banking assets in Belgium and Luxembourg.

“This transaction combines the best of both worlds,” Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt said in an emailed statement. “On the one hand, we’re realizing a significant gain. On the other hand, I wish to stress that we’re only selling part of our holding because we remain committed to our long-term strategic ownership of BNP Paribas.”

SFPI-FPIM will receive its expected dividend for 2016 of 2.70 euros per share, subject to approval by BNP Paribas shareholders at their May 23 annual meeting, the terms show.

Belgium will see its holding fall to 7.8 percent after the deal. BNP Paribas, Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp. are managing the sale.

BNP Paribas had climbed 0.6 percent in Paris trading Wednesday to 66.15 euros.

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