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BERLIN-Countries around the globe are scrambling to assure their people that bank deposits are safe, as governments agreed to rescue two major companies and the US financial troubles, slow to recover after the $700 billion bailout plan, spread worldwide. Germany has agreed to loan $68 billion to save Hypo Real Estate Holding AG, and the Dutch government, partnered with BNP Paribas, rescued Fortis Bank Nederland (Holding) NV and Fortis Insurance Belgium for $36.8 billion.

Stocks in the US, reacting to the global news and inpatient for the $700 billion to be infused into the economy, plunged more than 500 points to less than 10,000 points for the first time since 2008. President Bush’s Working Group on Financial Markets issued a statement to ask for patience. “Conditions in US and global financial markets remain extremely strained,” the group said in the statement, promising to work with market participants and regulators globally to address the current challenges and restore confidence and stability to financial markets around the world.

Foreign governments, including the UK, Germany, Greece, Italy and France, all pledged to protect deposits if banks should fail. The UK’s Financial Services Authority increased the compensation limit for bank deposits to about $87,000 per person, spurred on by Ireland’s promise for an unlimited deposit protection. “The (UK) chancellor has made clear that the authorities will do whatever is necessary to maintain financial stability and protect depositors,” according to a UK statement.

French, German, British and Italian leaders met in Paris on Sunday to discuss the crisis. Though the leaders would not commit to an EU-wide bailout plan, they did say that more regulation was needed, and a task force is needed to look over central banks and industries. “We have agreed that we must adopt a coherent approach, with each member state accepting national responsibilities,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel after the meeting. “We must, however, also ensure that no EU member state harms any other as a result of its national procedure.”

Hypo’s rescue is solidified with a guarantee of up to $47.3 billion by the German government and the German Central Bank. “We are very grateful for the support of all the parties,” said Georg Funke, CEO, in a statement. “This solution ensures that Hypo Real Estate Group is stabilized, will have access to sufficient liquidity even in an ongoing financial crisis, and can continue to operate.” The company is a heavy commercial real estate investor in the US, including the recent $130 million loan for 681 Fifth Ave., a 17-story office building in New York City.

The Belgian government had agreed to a partial buyout of Fortis’ holdings last week. French Bank BNP Paribas came in and has taken most of the holdings, with the Belgian government holding a 10% minority stake, and Luxemburg holding a smaller stake. “As a result of this transaction, the Fortis Group is exiting the banking business and the Belgian insurance business,” said Fortis CEO Filip Dierckx in a statement. “Given the extremely difficult market environment, the integration of Fortis Bank and Fortis Insurance Belgium into a truly leading European financial company is in the best interest of the stakeholders.”

Other companies are also struggling. UBS announced it would lay off 2,000 employees as it tries to recover from investing too much in the US sub-prime market.

More statements and decisions on the world market solutions are expected in the next few days. The EU will unveil its response to the financial crisis at a meeting Oct. 15 in Brussells.

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