Page last updated at 14:05 GMT, Friday, 26 September 2008 15:05 UK

Fortis to speed up asset sale

Fortis bank HQ
The Fortis share price has fallen for five days in a row

The Belgian-Dutch bank Fortis has announced it will speed up an asset sale in a move to restore confidence in one of Europe's biggest banks.

Fortis is selling assets worth up to 10bn euros ($14.6bn; 7.9bn) but it denies it has liquidity problems.

Ever since Fortis announced a significant exposure to sub-prime loans, earlier this year there have been fears of a run on the bank.

Shares have fallen for the past five days in a row.

Herman Verwilst, the group's interim chief executive, said he was "flabbergasted by what is reflected in the market".

Mr Verwilst said these falls had reflected "lots of nervousness" and "emotions".

Government guarantees

The Belgian government has reiterated a guarantee that customers' money will be protected.

Fortis has moved to reassure its customers, saying that their money was safe.

The bank said withdrawals by account holders represented less than 3% of its total retail and private banking customers' assets in Belgium and the Netherlands.

The bank lost its chief executive in July after Jean-Paul Votron stepped down amid criticism of his handling of problems related to the credit crisis.

Profits at the bank have dropped sharply this year. Last month Fortis announced its profits for the first six months had fallen by 41% to 1.6bn euros ($2.4bn; 1.2bn) against a year ago.




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