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General remark: There is no obligation to attend the public hearing. Your rights under the settlement will in no way whatsoever be affected if you do not attend. The public hearing is mainly relevant for those who want to formulate objections against or to support the settlement. Following the hearing, the court will render its decision on the request to declare the settlement agreement binding for all eligible shareholders. If the court declares the settlement binding, but you do not want to participate in the settlement, you may opt out of the settlement, whether or not you appeared at the hearing.
I learned from your press release/the press that the Amsterdam Appeal Court will organize a public hearing on 24 March 2017 and that potential beneficiaries will be notified by letter or e-mail. When will I receive this notification?
Before declaring the Fortis settlement binding, the Amsterdam Court indeed organizes a public hearing, where interested parties can put forward arguments against or in favor of the settlement.
Please note that there is no obligation to attend the hearing to preserve all your rights under the settlement.
The way you will be notified, and the timing thereof, firstly depends on whether your contact details are known to Ageas and/or a supporting claimant organization.
1. For the known shareholders, notification will be as follows:
a. People who joined one of the claimant organizations Deminor, SICAF or Stichting FortisEffect will in the first instance be notified by e-mail from their respective organization; this e-mail will be sent early October;
b. People not included under (a) and living in the Netherlands will be notified by normal letter; this letter will be sent early November;
c. People not included under (a) and living outside the Netherlands will notified by registered letter (and in some cases by serving of a writ by a bailiff), also early November.
For Belgium, a registered letter is mandatory, which will be sent by a Dutch bailiff and which will be in the three official languages, Dutch, French and German.
In order to ensure a smooth progress of the procedure, you are invited to collect the registered letter.
Please note that, unless you wish to attend the hearing, which is not mandatory to preserve your rights under the settlement, you do not have to take any action once you received the letter.
2. Other shareholders will be notified by publication in newspapers, magazines and online media.
I received a letter/I saw an announcement in the newspaper with regard to the public hearing; what does this mean and what do I have to do?
As you may know, we requested that the Amsterdam Appeal Court declare the Fortis settlement binding for all eligible shareholders. This is done within Dutch law and the so-called WCAM-procedure under which certain notice requirements apply when such a settlement is reached. You received this letter in the context of this procedure: before deciding that the settlement is binding, the Amsterdam Court organizes a public hearing where interested parties can put forward arguments against or in favor of the settlement. The purpose of the letter is to announce the date of the hearing and to inform you of certain requirements under the law. Following the hearing, the court will render its decision on the request to declare the settlement binding.
You are not obliged to attend the hearing. You can await the court’s decision and may still opt out in case you would have objections against the settlement agreement being declared binding.
If you wish to attend the hearing, please see question 5 below.
I received a registered letter and as I was not at home, I had to collect it at the post office. However I heard from X that he received the same letter by e-mail: why did I not receive it by e-mail?
Before declaring the Fortis settlement binding, the Amsterdam Court organizes a public hearing, where interested parties can put forward arguments against or in favor of the settlement. Under the WCAM-regime, certain notice requirements apply.
In our case, the Court approved a notification plan, which can be summarized as follows with respect to the known potential eligible shareholders: a. People who joined one of the claimant organizations Deminor, SICAF or Stichting FortisEffect are in the first instance notified by e-mail from their respective organization;People who joined the VEB will be notified in written following point sub b or sub c depending on their location
b. People not included under (a) and living in the Netherlands are notified by normal letter;
c. People not included under (a) and living outside the Netherlands are notified by registered letter (and in some cases by serving of a writ by a bailiff).
For unknown shareholders, we have proposed, and the Court has approved, a supplemental publication/notification plan that focuses on newspapers, magazines and online media.
I held Fortis Units in 2007 and /or 2008 but I did not receive a letter: why is that?
We could only send letters to potential eligible shareholders whose name and address are known to us or to one of the claimant organizations. Apparently your name and/or contact details were not included in the database. We can include you, if you wish, for further notifications if you provide your full contact details, including name and address to the call center of which the details are provided on our website or in the press release.
Please note that the fact that you did not receive a letter does not mean that you may not be a potential eligible shareholder of the settlement nor that you cannot be heard during the proceedings before the court of appeal.
You can find all relevant information and conditions on the website FORsettlement.com.
I wish to attend the public hearing: what do I have to do?
There are various options should you wish to attend the public hearing: you can engage an attorney to appear on your behalf, you can attend in person and speak, or you can attend as an observer.
1. If you wish to put forward legal arguments against the settlement, you have to engage an attorney who can submit a written defense to the Court on 10 February 2017 at the latest. During the public hearing, your attorney will have (in principle) 15 minutes to explain your defense. The written defense should be in Dutch and be sent in 4 copies to the Court: Gerechtshof Amsterdam, Afdeling civiel recht en belastingrecht, team handelsrecht, for the attention of Mrs. S.A.W.M. Rodrigues Parreira, Postbus 1312, 1000 BH Amsterdam, with reference to case number 200.191.713/01. At the same time a copy should be sent to the counsel of all parties that filed the petition in court (their names can be found in the petition, a copy of which is on the website). Please note that in addition to your counsel fees, a court fee has to be paid.
2. It is also possible to attend the hearing without counsel. If you wish to take the floor yourself, you will be given 5 minutes speaking time (which equals about 1,5 page in A4).
3. Finally you can attend just as an interested party, without an active role. However, please note that attendance is not mandatory to preserve your rights. Your rights under the settlement will in no way whatsoever be affected if you do not attend. Anyone wishing to attend has to register by 24 February 2017 at the latest by letter or e-mail:
- by letter: to Gerechtshof Amsterdam, Afdeling civiel recht en belastingrecht, team handelsrecht, for the attention of Mrs. S.A.W.M. Rodrigues Parreira, Postbus 1312, 1000 BH Amsterdam;
- by e-mail: to firstname.lastname@example.org>; each time mentioning case number 200.191.713/01.
If you wish to speak in court, you have to mention this explicitly when registering.
The Amsterdam Appeal Court is situated in Paleis van Justitie, IJdok 20, 1013 MM Amsterdam.
If too many people would register for attendance, exceeding the capacity of the court, another location will be sought and such information will be posted on this website.
I saw an announcement in the newspaper but I did not receive a personal letter: can I nevertheless attend the public hearing?
We could only send letters to potential eligible shareholders whose name and address are known to us or to the claimant organizations. That is why we also included announcements in various newspapers. You can attend the hearing even if you haven’t received an individualized letter. Please note however that there is no obligation to attend the hearing to preserve all your rights. If you would like to attend, see the requirements mentioned in question 5.
Can I get a copy of the Notice of Hearing of the Fortis Settlement?
Yes. Please note that you can download a copy of the notice on this website in Dutch, French, German or English (in the Documents- section). You may also request a copy of the Notice be sent to you either by e-mail or by post by providing your relevant contact details to the FORsettlement call center: tel: Belgium: 0800 26 832; The Netherlands: +31 30 25 25 359; International: +32 (0)2 557 59 00 or by sending an e-mail in the ‘Contact’- section of this website.
If you would just like to be kept informed about the settlement you can register on this website by going to the “Contact” page and clicking the “Register” button.
I received a letter containing a notice letter by the Amsterdam Appeal Court. Does this mean I have to submit now my claim to the court?
No, the convocation relates to a public hearing organized by the Amsterdam Appeal Court. This is only of interest to you if you wish to put forward legal arguments against or in favor of the settlement.
If not, you do not have to take any action for the time being. You will be informed in due time of the next steps and the formalities. There is no claims process at this time.
Do I need to go to the hearing procedure to preserve my rights to compensation?
Not at all. Attendance at the hearing is optional and mainly aimed at providing a forum to formulate objections against, or arguments in support of the settlement.
Do I need to go physically to Amsterdam to be heard or can I convey my arguments in writing?
You can file a written defense, but then you will need to involve an attorney (see question 5 above).
What if I cannot read the documents I received because they are not in a language I understand?
Enclosed with the documents was a document labeled “Annex II” addressing the right to refuse to accept a document. In such a situation , you can thus refuse to accept the document and/or you can choose to return the form provided within one week of receipt to the address provided on the form.
Why am I receiving this notice in more than one language?
Pursuant to the EU Regulations on Service of Legal Documents, documents are required to be provided in certain, and sometimes multiple, languages dependent on the country of service. If the document is not translated into a language you understand or the official language(s) of the place of service, you have a right to refuse the document pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1393/2007. If you would like to refuse service based on these grounds, you must refuse to accept the document at the time of service or complete and return the form provided entitled “Annex II,” within one week of receipt, to the address provided on the form.
Why am I receiving this notice?
You have received the notice because you were identified as a potential eligible shareholder who purchased or held Fortis Units between 28 February 2007 c.o.b. and 14 October 2008 c.o.b. Additional information, as well as all relevant documents, can be found at this website
What motivated you to reach an agreement now?
We have always said that proper management of the legacy implied considering all possible options, and this did not exclude a settlement route. This is not an easy route as you can imagine as litigation is very complex.
Whilst over the past eight years we have had positive and less positive judgements in the various procedures in Belgium and the Netherlands, we wanted to draw a line under what has been an uncertain and difficult period for everyone.
The settlement brings with it greater certainty and transparency around this long outstanding issue. As a Group this agreement will allow us to regain full strategic and financial flexibility and we will in future be able to focus fully on our core business and the realization of our strategic plans.
Which Claimant representatives are involved in the settlement?
The claimant representatives that are currently party to the settlement are Deminor, Stichting FortisEffect, SICAF and VEB who together represent about the vast majority of the current active claimants (i.e. claimants who initiated legal proceedings or on whose behalf proceedings were initiated.). Mr. Arnauts and Mr Lenssens, two Brussels based attorneys who also launched legal actions on behalf of a number of claimants, agreed to support the settlement.
What is the WCAM procedure?
WCAM refers to the Dutch Act on Collective Settlement of Mass Claims (Wet Collectieve Afwikkeling Massaschade, “WCAM”).
The WCAM procedure is a legal procedure under Dutch law whereby parties to an out of court settlement agreement can jointly request the court (the Amsterdam Court of Appeal) to declare the settlement binding on all beneficiaries of the settlement. Before deciding on the binding declaration, the Court will assess, among other things, the representativeness of the organizations as well as the reasonableness of the settlement.
The law provides that any beneficiary of the settlement can opt out within a certain period after the announcement of the binding declaration.
How much money will I receive (per Fortis Unit)?
The level of compensation depends on the specific characteristics of your acquisitions and holdings.
On 23 May, Ageas published as promised a second press release including the proposed compensation amounts per type of eligible shareholder. The tables are given below:
|Indicative compensation in EUR per Fortis Units|
(21/09/2007 O.O.B. – 7/11/2007 C.O.B.)
(13/05/2008 O.O.B. – 25/06/2008 C.O.B.)
(29/09/2008 O.O.B. – 3/10/2008 C.O.B.)
|Non-active claimants||Compensation for Buyers of Fortis Units||0.38||0.85||0.25|
|Compensation for Holders of Fortis Units||0.19||0.43||0.13|
|Claim form add-on : EUR 0.5 per Fortis Units with a maximum of EUR 200|
|Active claimants||Compensation for Buyers of Fortis Units||0.56||1.28||0.38|
|Compensation for Holders of Fortis Units||0.28||0.64||0.19|
|Retail add-on : EUR 0.5 per Fortis Units with a maximum of EUR 550 calculated on the highest number of Fortis Units held as Buyer and/or Holder in Period 1,2,3|
|Claim form add-on : EUR 0.5 per Fortis Units with a maximum of EUR 400|
In addition, a number of fictitious examples are published on the website as well as a calculation tool that allows every individual to obtain a first estimation of the amount that could be attributed.
At the same time the WCAM filing with the Amsterdam Court of Appeal has taken place and will be publicly available on the same website.
Why are the compensation amounts different between an active and a non-active claimant?
Active Claimants are those persons who took an affirmative step to make a claim against Ageas by participating directly in a court action against Ageas before 14 March 2016 or by having registered with or joined before 31 December 2014 an organization that initiated such court action.
These parties paid expenses (lawyers’ fees, membership fees….) and without their action there would not have been any settlement. Therefore, it is fair that they receive an extra compensation. The non-active claimants will benefit from those initiatives taken by the active claimants, as they will also receive a compensation which is reasonable.
Why is there only a “retail add-on” for Active Claimants? Is it only for retail shareholders?
Active Claimants have paid expenses (lawyers’ fees, membership fees…) and without their action there would not have been any settlement. Therefore, it is fair that they receive an extra compensation. Costs made may be relatively higher for small shareholders. Therefore we split up the extra compensation for Active Claimants in two parts: (i) a higher amount per Fortis Unit and (ii) an extra compensation limited to 1,100 Fortis Units (EUR 0.5 per Fortis Unit with a maximum of EUR 550). This second compensation will benefit (relatively) the small shareholders the most. Every eligible shareholder who is an active claimant is entitled to receive the retail add-on.
What happens if the WCAM judge decides not to support the settlement?
If the Court deems that the proposed settlement does not meet the criteria, it can withhold a binding declaration and invite parties to amend the agreement. It is up to the parties to amend or not.
In terms of how this works in practice: The Court has to test two crucial elements regarding the proposed settlement, being:
1. The representativeness of the organizations
2. The reasonableness of the proposed settlement
As a longstanding loyal shareholder, why should I be satisfied with this level of compensation?
EUR 1.2 billion is a substantial sum. We believe we have agreed a fair and reasonable settlement for those impacted by the Fortis events of 2007 and 2008. We hope that those who are eligible under this settlement will be satisfied with the outcome and that this will help everyone impacted to draw a line under what has been an uncertain and difficult period. The settlement agreement delivers a fair allocation of the total settlement amount taking into account the various types of shareholders and the different positions and characteristics represented through these holdings.
The calculation tool that has been made available since 23 May on the website enables every individual to make simulations for his personal situation.
How do I know if I’m eligible to participate? What does this settlement mean for me personally?
An “Eligible Shareholder” is any person who held Fortis Units at any time between 28 February 2007 c.o.b. and 14 October 2008 c.o.b. The eligible Fortis Units refer to the Fortis Units currently named Ageas (stock ticker “AGS”) and the number of eligible Fortis Units refers to the number of Fortis Units before the reverse stock split of 10:1, effected in 2012.
Eligible shareholders will have to waive all further rights to compensation in any form from any party related to the events that took place during the Relevant Period.
What it means for you depends on your own personal situation. Ageas and the claimants organizations are committed to open and transparent communications and you will be kept fully informed in the coming months and years about what you have to do and by when. A dedicated website, a call center and other communications are in place to help you.
In seeking compensation what are the relevant periods I need to be mindful of?
An eligible shareholder is any person who held Fortis Units at any time between 28 February 2007 c.o.b. and 14 of October 2008 c.o.b.
Without admitting any wrongdoing the parties took into consideration the various litigation procedures, the main allegations and which judgments have been rendered so far. Based on this we were able to define three “reference periods”:
- Fortis ‘communication on its subprime exposure in September/October 2007
- Fortis ‘communication on its future solvency after full integration of ABN AMRO in May/June 2008
- Fortis ‘communication on the deal with the Benelux governments between 29 September and 3 October 2008
This has led to 3 specific periods. Within the compensation scheme and depending on your specific position as a Buyer or Holder and as an active or non-active claimant, these periods are taken into account to determine specific compensation amounts:
a. Period 1: 21 September 2007 until 7 November 2007 close of business
b. Period 2: 13 May 2008 until 25 June 2008 close of business
c. Period 3: 29 September 2008 until 3 October 2008 close of business
What can I already do to prepare my claim and who will compensate any costs incurred in obtaining the relevant documents?
Firstly there is no urgency as the period until the first payments may take at the earliest by the end of 2017. You will be informed in due time on the relevant documentation and/or bank statements needed to prove your ownership at the relevant dates.
It is possible that your financial institution will ask for a fee if you no longer have all the relevant documentation and they have to provide an additional copy. That is also one of the reasons why the parties have agreed that all shareholders who fill out a claims form and who can prove to have held Fortis Units anytime between 28 February 2007 c.o.b. and 14 October 2008 c.o.b. will receive an administrative compensation. Details on the eligibility criteria and claims form submission process will be provided at a later.
What happens if I have sold all my Fortis Units in the meantime?
That is not an issue. An “Eligible Shareholder” is any person who held Fortis Units at any time between 28 February 2007 c.o.b. and 14 October 2008 c.o.b.
I inherited these Fortis Units. Am I eligible?
Yes. Heirs of “Eligible Shareholders” have the same rights as “Eligible Shareholders”.
I had 1,000 Fortis Units. Now, I have 100 Fortis Units because of the reverse stock split. Does it mean the compensation will be calculated on 100 Fortis Units?
No. The compensation is calculated on Fortis Units held at any time between 28 February 2007 c.o.b. and 14 October 2008 c.o.b.
How do I file a claim?
You do not have to take any action at this time. Details on how to file a valid claim will be provided in the coming months. There is no rush and Ageas will publish all of the relevant information in due course.
We will use a specialized claims administrator to execute claims and at the appropriate time you will be provided with its details. Such company has expertise in doing everything that is necessary within such a procedure to ensure a fluid and correct execution of the settlement procedure. Obviously, the parties will make sure that individuals can talk to the administrator at least in the three main languages, Dutch, French and English.
I’m an eligible shareholder. What do I have to do now? What is the next step?
First of all you do not need to rush. There is no urgency at this stage.
The first step in the procedure was the submission of the filing to the Amsterdam Court of Appeal. This has been done mid May 2016. The next step is a public hearing scheduled on 24 March 2017 after which the Court has to decide whether it declares the settlement binding or not. If the court has declared the settlement to be binding, an opt-out period will start of 3 to 6 months. Only after this period (and if the settlement is not annulled because the opt-out percentage exceeded a certain % of the settlement amount), distributions of payments can start. This means that payment is to be expected at the earliest by the end of 2017.
Ageas will ensure that via the various communication channels it has set up, all relevant information and precise guidelines on what every individual should do will be available in due time.
What should I do with practical questions such as: “I bought Fortis Units on a common basis with my spouse, how should I file my claim?”
In due time, Ageas and the claimant organizations will provide all relevant information so that you can prepare your claims file in a valid way.
Why will it take so long for investors to receive compensation?
We first have to await the binding declaration by the Court. This may take one year from now. If the Court declared the settlement binding, investors will receive information on the terms and will then be granted a period of time during which they can consider whether they want to participate in the settlement or "opt-out" (three to six months). In addition, the settlement agreement provides that investors have one year to file their claim form after notification of the binding declaration of the Court.
Do I have to pay taxes on the compensation?
It is impossible for Ageas to give advice as we don’t know the personal tax situation of each individual.
Does it make sense to continue my legal procedures against Ageas and its former Directors?
That is a question that each individual has to decide. The WCAM procedure provides for an opt-out procedure which means that as an eligible shareholder you have the right to step out of the settlement. Be mindful however that the WCAM procedure is an explicit opt-out procedure which means that every eligible shareholder needs to opt out explicitly and is otherwise supposed to accept and to opt in and to be bound by the settlement. If an eligible shareholder opts-out of the settlement, he will not receive any compensation.
The calculator is accompanied by a note stating that the amount calculated is merely indicative, and that the amount of compensation is subject to potential dilution or increase. What exactly does this mean?
The maximum total amount payable to the collected eligible shareholders under the settlement is EUR 1,203,700,000. Moreover, there are two sub-maximums: the maximum total amount to be distributed among Active Claimants is EUR 795,900,000. For Non-Active Claimants, this is limited to EUR 407,800,000.
In determining the compensation per Fortis Unit as well as the total amount, the settlement parties attempted to realistically assess the total number of Fortis Units for which a valid claim for compensation will be submitted.
They were able to give a fairly accurate estimate for the Active Claimants group, since this consists of persons who have already identified themselves through legal action or have signed up with one of the settlement parties.
However, the assessment of the number of Non-Active Claimants was more complicated. By nature, these are people who have not yet identified themselves. Still, the parties were able to estimate the expected turnout for this group based on historical data and scientific studies.After the submission period for claim forms ends, the claims administrator will determine the total number of Fortis Units for which compensation is being claimed. If at that time it turns out that compensation is claimed for fewer Fortis Units than expected when determining the total amount in either the Active or Non-Active Claimants group, the total amount for this group will not be fully utilised. In that case, the excess funds will be used to increase the amount per Fortis Unit paid out to each claimant in the relevant group by up to 15%.
Conversely, if it turns out that compensation has been claimed for more Fortis Units than expected in either the Active or Non-Active Claimants group, the amount per Fortis Unit will be proportionally reduced for this group.
You can find further explanations in the Submission after case management hearing, published on this website in the category ‘Documents’.
Ageas will pay out a very substantial amount. Does Ageas have sufficient means to make such an important payment?
End of June 2016, Ageas reported a net cash position of EUR 2.1 billion of which EUR 0.8 billion ring fenced in the context of the legal settlement. The remaining amount of around EUR 0.5 billion has in the meantime been transferred to two foundations, specifically created in the context of the legal settlement.
What’s the impact of this settlement on Ageas and its Fortis Unit?
We believe that this is a positive development for the company as the long-standing uncertainty will be lifted and Ageas will be able to regain its strategic and financial flexibility. It is always difficult to assess the impact of any news on the Ageas Fortis Unit but it is fair to say that the proposed settlement is in line with the amount that has been modelled by the specialized analysts. It is also important to note that the cash amount will be gradually released over a period of two to three years.
Why did an oral hearing take place?
The oral hearing of 24 March took place as part of the procedure to declare the settlement agreement of 14 March 2016, concluded between Ageas, Stichting FORsettlement and the claimants’ organisations, i.e. VEB, SICAF, FortisEffect and Deminor, binding in accordance with the Dutch Act on Collective Settlement of Mass Claims (“Wet Collectieve Afwikkeling Massaschade”, in short “WCAM”). This hearing allowed the Court of Appeal to hear and consider arguments in favor and potentially against the proposed settlement, before rendering a decision on its binding nature.
Was there any reaction from the Court of Appeal in favor of or against the proposed settlement?
There was no particular reaction from the Court of Appeal, aside from it asking a number of questions to the various speakers, which is common in this type of proceedings.
What were the main arguments Ageas raised during the oral hearing?
The main arguments Ageas raised during the oral hearing concerned the reasonableness of the compensation and the representativeness of the claimants’ organisations.
What was decided at the oral hearing?
Nothing was decided, however the Court of Appeal did indicate that its ruling would be rendered on Friday 16 June 2017 after 17:30.
What is the next step in the WCAM procedure?
The Court of Appeal will decide on the request to declare the settlement binding.
Did the Court of Appeal give any indication on timing?
The Court of Appeal indicated that its ruling would be rendered on Friday 16 June 2017 after 17:30.
Can I start filing a claim form?
Ageas will publish all relevant information with regard to claim filing in due time if the Court of Appeal declares the proposed settlement binding. At this point in time, no action by the Eligible Shareholders is required.
When will payouts start?
If the Court of Appeal declares the proposed settlement binding, an opt-out period of minimum 3 months will start. Only after this period has passed (and provided that Ageas does not terminate the settlement because the opt-out amount exceeds 5% of the settlement amount), distributions of partial payments can start. This means that partial payment, if any, can be expected at the earliest by the end of 2017.