Troubled Belgian co-op bank NewB to vote on merger with vdk bank in January

NewB, which has failed to meet regulatory capital requirements, is looking at a merger with the Flemish ethical bank

Struggling Belgian co-operative bank NewB held a special general meeting on 17 December to discuss its future.

The bank, which is facing closure after its failure to meet capital requirements imposed by the National Bank of Belgium, has reached an agreement with vdk Bank, an ethical bank rooted in the Christian Labour movement.

However, the general meeting decided not to hold the vote on the merger with vdk.

“Following consultation prior to the general meeting, it became apparent that the vote could not be held under satisfactory conditions for all stakeholders,” said the bank.

It added: “In the absence of being able to proceed with the vote of the day, Prof De Wolf, who chaired the meeting, wished to reach a consensus among the parties present so that the rest of the work could be carried out in the most constructive manner possible. Among the 550 or so people present in the room, seven co-operators however dissociated themselves from this proposed consensus.”

As such, participants agreed to establish a working group of people with financial expertise to examine the business plan linked to the partnership with vdk bank and clarify any ambiguities ahead of another extraordinary general meeting due to be held in January.

NewB, which has been placed under the supervision of a court-appointed administrator, estimates that the transfer of customers could take place in the first months of 2023, providing its members and the regulators approve the deal.

A Flemmish co-operative bank, vdk has similar policies to NewB – it excludes fossil fuels from its investment portfolio and is a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values.

“Vdk Bank and NewB will therefore be partners in the development of an ethical and sustainable banking practice. Together, we are confident that vdk bank and NewB will be able to maximise their sustainability impact as the largest ethical and sustainable Belgian bank.

“At present, vdk bank offers current accounts, savings accounts, investment products, credit cards, loans and mortgages. It also has a complete banking offer for professional customers,” said NewB.