Fortis Details $18.4 Billion Share Issue


Belgium's Fortis, one of three banks bidding as part of a consortium to buy ABN Amro Holding, released details of a 13.2 billion euros ($18.4 billion) share issue Friday to raise cash to fund its part of the takeover.

Fortis's rights issue -- meaning it will be available only to Fortis shareholders -- offers the right to buy 2 new shares of the company for every three owners hold, at a price of 15 euros ($20.95) per share.

That's 44% below Fortis's closing share price 26.62 euros ($37.19) on Thursday, a price set low enough to ensure there is appetite for the offer.

The Fortis consortium, led by Royal Bank of Scotland, is the favorite to buy ABN Amro after clearing several regulatory hurdles.

Fortis' rights issue is the most difficult part of funding its 24.7 billion euros ($34.5 billion) slice of the consortium's mostly cash 70.1 billion euros ($97.9 billion) offer. Rival bidder, Britain's Barclays, mostly stock offer was worth 60.8 billion euros ($84.9 billion) at Thursday's close, 13% lower than the consortium's bid.

Fortis' offering is being underwritten by Merrill Lynch & Co.

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