UPDATE 1-Dutch deny report of Fortis Dutch operations sale

AMSTERDAM, Oct 10 (Reuters) – The Dutch Finance Ministry has denied a report that Deutsche Bank may buy Fortis Bank Nederland instead of ABN AMRO’s Dutch operations, a deal put on hold by the nationalisation of Fortis’s Dutch holdings.

Dutch newspaper Telgraaf reported on Friday, without naming sources, that the Dutch central bank (DNB) was backing the alternative deal after it halted Fortis’s sale of 709 million euros’ ($970 million) worth of Dutch ABN AMRO assets to Deutsche Bank last week. Fortis needed to sell some operations to meet European Commission antitrust demands after buying ABN AMRO last year.

The Dutch Finance Ministry said no talks were being held with any party to sell Fortis’s Dutch operations. Deutsche Bank did not immediately comment, and ABN declined to comment on the report.

To comply with EC’s antitrust demands, Fortis agreed to the sale of two units servicing large corporate clients, 13 commercial advisory branches for medium-sized clients, parts of Hollandsche Bank Unie N.V. and factoring services company IFN Finance.

The newspaper said the alternative deal being discussed could see those businesses remain part of ABN AMRO instead, with Deutsche Bank getting Fortis’s Dutch operations, which are smaller but include retail branches. No price details were reported.

The Dutch government nationalised Fortis’s Dutch operations and ABN AMRO a week ago for 16.8 billion euros after investors lost confidence in the financial group as it tried to absorb ABN and raise money in a worsening global credit crisis that forced it to take asset writedowns.

The DNB halted Fortis’s deal with Deutsche Bank on Sept. 30, Fortis said, because of ‘exceptional circumstances on international financial markets, the uncertainty with regard to the future shareholder in ABN AMRO Bank, and the implications of this uncertainty for all parties involved.’

(Reporting by Reed Stevenson, editing by Will Waterman) ($1=.7287 Euro) Keywords: DEUTSCHEBANK/DUTCH