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‘Fortis bailout will not hit UK offering’

The multi-nationalisation of Belgium bank Fortis has had no impact on its UK offering, says Fortis Life UK managing director Martin Werth.

Werth says the £8.9bn bailout of Fortis by Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg will not affect the bank’s business in the UK.

Fortis, which employs 18,000 people across the Benelux countries, entered into the UK protection market in July offering Real Life Cover and Your Life Plan with Lifesearch. Werth says: “It is business as usual at Fortis Life. We are a separate company regulated by the FSA and we are well capitalised to meet our plans.”

Lifesearch policy adviser Matt Morris says the news does not affect its business with the bank.

He says: “Fortis are as secure as any other life company in the UK and, of course, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme guarantees people’s policies by law.”

Master Adviser IFA Roy McLoughlin says: “Fortis Life is the newest entrant into the UK insurance market so it is good news. In a similar way to nationalised banks over here it should be a safe, if not safer, than it was previously.”

The bailout saw Belgium pool £3.7bn for a 49 per cent stake in Fortis’s Belgium banking units, the Netherlands inject £3.1bn for the same sized stake in Fortis’s Dutch banking operations and Luxembourg extend a loan of £2bn which will guarantee it 49 per cent of Fortis’s banking business in Luxembourg.

The bank is also selling its stake in ABN Amro.

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