Saturday, August 02, 2008


Fortis bows to pressure and ousts CFO
the ambitious ABN Amro deal, which saw Fortis take over its Dutch rival’s retail banking, private banking and asset management arms for €24bn last autumn.

The move, undertaken in concert with Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander of Spain, landed Fortis in a precarious position even after it undertook Europe’s second-largest rights issue ever, worth €13.4bn, to finance it.

The bank then startled investors in June when it scrapped its interim dividend and raised a further €1.5bn of equity as part of a plan to boost its capital reserves by €8.3bn in spite of assurances that no such move was necessary.

Shares in Fortis, which yesterday rose 8 cents to €9.16, are worth a third of their €29 peak before the crunch, leaving the bank with a market capitalisation worth less than what it paid to enter the ABN Amro deal.
Not long ago Fortis used to pay a dividend of EUR 1.40 per share annually. Obviously the market didn't believe this was sustainable and was right (would be a dividend yield of over 15 % otherwise).

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