Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #253: Fortis

According to wikipedia:
Fortis (Euronext: FORA, Euronext: FORB, LuxSE: FOR) is a banking, insurance, and investment management company, and is the 20th largest business in the world by revenue. The Benelux countries are Fortis' home base and its strength. Fortis' banking operations include network (retail), commercial, and merchant banking; its insurance products include life, health, and property/casualty lines. Products are sold through independent agents and brokers, financial planners, and through Fortis Bank branches. It is listed on the Euronext Brussels, Euronext Amsterdam, and Luxembourg stock exchanges.

Emphasis added by me.

Is it the European A.I.G.?

European Officials Hold Weekend Talks on Fortis
European financial authorities are holding discussions over the future of Fortis this weekend, while the troubled Belgian-Dutch financial group is seeking to close key divestments deals.

As of Saturday, financial authorities were contacting other institutions, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters, although no particular solution was preferred and nothing concrete was likely to emerge before Sunday.

Fortis investors face a weekend of uncertainty after the banking and insurance group went out of its way on Friday to reassure them that it was solvent and in no danger of collapse following market talk the company could become another casualty of the credit crisis.

Emphasis added by me.
Fortis is hoping to announce deals to sell off parts of its business by Monday in an attempt to show investors it can raise cash and restore confidence in the business, while buyers for the business may emerge over the weekend, local media reported.

As its shares plummeted more than 20 percent to 15 year-lows on Friday, Fortis called an emergency news conference to say its position was strong and that it would expand assets sales to as much as 10 billion euros ($14.6 billion) to raise cash.

Emphasis added by me.
At the core of market concerns is Fortis' liquidity, but the financial group reminded investors that it was sitting on a funding base of 300 billion euros.

The European Central Bank has also made clear that it is ready to fund any liquidity shortfalls as European money markets remain effectively frozen.

"They are feeling strong but developments go fast. Look at what happened with Lehman Brothers. Of course, we cannot compare Fortis to Lehman, they're different banks, but things can change quickly," said Rob Koenders of Dutch asset manager Harmony Vermogensbeheer, which holds Fortis shares.

Emphasis added by me.

Explosions usually do happen fast. So do collapses.

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