Question discussed at the 2006 general meeting
In 2005, two buildings belonging to the Bank were sold, namely the Louvain and Charleroi agencies.
- Louvain building, Grote Markt, 6
The Louvain agency was closed on 1 July 2003. The building was listed, by virtue of a decision taken by the Flemish government on 15 March 2004. It continued to be used as an IT back-up centre until the end of February 2005. The building was put up for sale by public auction in May 2005 and sold on 7 June 2005, at the second sitting, for € 6.4 million.
- Charleroi agency building, Quai de Brabant, 10
The agency closed its doors in 2002 and was put up for sale at the end of 2003, after having been widely advertised. Initially, a sale by public auction was launched. At the first sitting on 26 September 2003, the highest offer was € 600,000; at the second sitting, on 24 October 2003, the Town of Charleroi offered € 725,000. The Bank turned this offer down and subsequently entered into direct negotiations with the Town of Charleroi. The building was finally sold to the Town of Charleroi for € 1,200,000 to which must be added the sales charges (€ 57,939). The sales contract was signed on 1 December 2005.
At the 2006 general meeting, questions were also asked regarding the Bank’s policy on real estate sales and the situation with respect to the current proceedings concerning the sale of the Hasselt agency property in 2002.
In 2002, the Bank reviewed the policy regarding the sale of its properties. It decided to adopt a procedure of sales by public auction, subsequently to assess this procedure and to compare it with the results from the procedure of sales by private treaty. Indeed, one must not lose sight of the fact that the Bank’s property assets consist of exceptional buildings, which can only be of interest to a relatively limited number of buyers. Under such circumstances, finding a procedure which guarantees an optimum price is not straightforward.
The premises of the former Hasselt agency (Schiervellaan 26) was put up for sale in spring 2001 and sold on 6 July 2001 for € 942,000. Completion took place on 10 January 2002. Shortly afterwards, on 7 February 2002, the buyer sold the property on to SNCB, the Belgian national railway company, for € 2.3 million.
The Bank has brought two lawsuits, the first relating to the responsibility of the external expert instructed with valuing the property and the second to the possible loss suffered. These two cases are being handled by the Hasselt Court of First Instance. At the sitting of 7 March 2005, the court ordered the Bank to provide proof of the loss of more than seven twelfths of the value of the property. To that end, the court requested an expert valuation and appointed three experts. Since then, there has been no new intervention in this matter, which remains adjourned at the Hasselt Court of First Instance.