NETHERLANDS - Banking and insurance group Fortis may have to fork out around €1bn if it wants to acquire Delta Lloyd's 51% stake in ABN Amro's insurance activities, according to Delta Lloyd chairman Niek Hoek.

Delta Lloyd has a 30-year contract with ABN Amro - established in 2002 - which allows it to sell its insurance products through the bank's branches, Hoek stressed during the presentation of Delta Lloyds annual figures.

But in an earlier media interview, Fortis governor Jos Baeten indicated his company wants to sell its insurance products through the same channel.

A spokesman for Fortis commented to IPE today: "We haven't taken any decisions at all about our future policy on insurance activities, and therefore any speculation about a takeover amount is very premature. We are looking at the issue as part of the whole takeover process."

Hoek's commented were made on the publication of Delta Lloyd's results, which saw the firm report a 29% rise in premium income, mainly thanks to "substantial collective contracts from companies and pension funds".

Premium income in Belgium went up 20%, as a result of a well-performing product line, it said.

The company expects the strong results in the collective market to continue in 2008, and is aiming to double the gross premium income it earns in 2010 compared with that raised in 2005, the firm has stated.

To achieve "better, faster and cheaper results", the insurer announced plans to share business activities, rather than running operations individually. As part of it, Delta Lloyd has recently started up a knowledge centre for pensions, which it will run together with ABN Amro Insurances.

The company will target company pension funds and directly insured scheme, in particular, both directly and through insurance and actuarial advisers this year, it said.

Elsewhere, Jean-Paul Votron, CEO of Fortis, has indicated the integration process of ABN Amro Asset Management with Fortis Investments will be completed over the coming weeks.

This new combination will lead to a top quality asset manager with a presence in 30 countries worldwide, Fortis claimed in its pro-forma results of the acquired ABN Amro divisions, and ahead of the presentation of the Fortis figures next week.

The bancassurer reported a rise in net profit from the acquired asset management activities of 28% to €194m.

That said, if the proceeds of the sale of asset management activities in Curacao and Taiwan and its mutual fund activities in the US in 2006, are taken into account, the net profit fell by 34% to €155m.

ABN Amro's assets under management rose by €2bn to €194bn.

ABN Amro's asset management activities in Brazil - acquired by Fortis as part of the takeover - will be taken over by Banco Santander, Fortis said. The €209m transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2008.

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