Page last updated at 21:47 GMT, Friday, 11 July 2008 22:47 UK

Boss of Belgium's Fortis resigns

Fortis headquarters in Brussels
Fortis is trying to shore up its finances in the wake of the credit crunch

The chief executive of Belgium's largest bank, Fortis, has stepped down amid criticism of his handling of problems related to the credit crisis.

Jean-Paul Votron's resignation comes after he proposed a controversial plan to raise cash that involves cutting the shareholder dividend.

He is the first boss of a large European bank to lose his job since the credit crunch started last summer.

His resignation from his post takes effect immediately.

He will be temporarily replaced by Herman Verwilst, Mr Votron's deputy, while the bank searches for a successor.

"The board of directors of Fortis and Jean-Paul Votron have decided, by mutual agreement and in the interest of the group, to terminate the mandate of Jean-Paul Votron as Fortis CEO," the bank said in a statement.

The Belgian-Dutch group wanted to raise 8.3bn euros ($13bn; 6.6bn) to boost its capital reserves.

Like many banks, Fortis needs extra capital to deal with the global credit crunch.

It also has to fund its 24bn euros acquisition of parts of Dutch bank ABN Amro.

Investor anger

But the plan has angered investors who were shocked by the sudden change of heart after Fortis previously said the dividend was safe and its capital reserves were healthy.

Shares lost a fifth of their value after the plan was unveiled, and the price has fallen 60% over the year.

Fortis was part of the consortium with Royal of Scotland and Santander that bought ABN Amro last year for 70bn euros.

Some analysts now say that price tag was too high.

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