WestLB AG - derived from Westdeutsche Landesbank, i.e. Western German state Bank - was a European commercial bank based in Düsseldorf in Germany which was partly owned by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. German state banks are a group of state owned banks unique to Germany. They are regionally organised and their business is predominantly wholesale banking. As of 30 June 2012 WestLB was downsized and Portigon Financial Services AG became the legal successor of WestLB.
The bank was incorporated on January 1, 1969. Total assets of the group were €288.1 bn as of December 31, 2008 (€292.1bn as of September 30, 2006) with operations spread over eleven countries in Europe, six countries in The Americas, six countries in Asia, Australia and South Africa, including significant investment banking operations in New York, London, Luxembourg, Tokyo and Hong Kong.
WestLB was also the central institution for savings banks in North Rhine-Westphalia. On August 30, 2002 WestLB was transformed into an Aktiengesellschaft (joint stock company) and on July 19, 2005 institutional liability and guarantor liability were abolished, allowing the company to concentrate on commercial operations. The public finance tasks of economic and structural development were transferred to the NRW.BANK which now operates as the Landesbank of North Rhine-Westphalia.
In February 2008, as the global credit crisis evolved, WestLB was allocated a 5bn Euros guarantee by North Rhine-Westphalia and a group of local banks. The bank was reported to have suffered from exposure to investments in structured credits.
In November 2008 the board of WestLB announced that it intended to obtain state loan guarantees and look at raising additional capital from the German government's specially set up bailout fund. There are also any ideas to merge the WestLB with other state owned banks or to rearrange segments of the WestLB in the German system of state owned banks.
In November 2009 85 billion in problem assets were transferred from WestLB to a winding-up agency called Erste Abwicklungsanstalt (EAA), colloquially also called 'bad bank'.
As per 30 June 2012 the brand WestLB was given up and the remaining company continued to operate under the name of Portigon Financial Services AG. Besides, EAA and another organisation under the roof of Hessian and Thuringian Landesbank Helaba are dealing with the aftermath of the quasi bankruptcy and carrying on with core functions of the former WestLB.
Stockholders on May 10, 2009
- 30.862% NRW.BANK (also partly owned by North Rhine-Westphalia)
- 25.032% Sparkassen- und Giroverband Rheinland
- 25.032% Sparkassen- und Giroverband Westfalen-Lippe
- 17.766% North Rhine-Westphalia