BENELUX – Dexia says it has rejected an approach from rival banking and insurance group Fortis.

Confirming newspaper reports that it is looking at Dexia, Fortis said it has “invited Dexia to jointly study the possibilities of combining forces based on strong belief that this could create substantial additional value for both companies, their shareholders and all other stakeholders”.

It said it has “taken notice” of Dexia's negative response to the invitation – but added that it may take acquisitions into consideration as part of its growth strategy.

It said it is committed to the growth strategy outlined by chief executive Jean-Paul Votron.

“The essence of the Fortis strategy is and remains organic growth but may also take acquisitions into consideration.”

Dexia said it was contacted by Fortis representatives who submitted a proposal to examine bringing the two groups together.

“The members of the management board have unanimously found that it was neither desirable nor advisable to proceed with such a study.”

Its board met yesterday evening to look into the proposals. It said all members “unanimously decided not to go ahead with this proposal of a joint study, considering that this was not in the interest of Dexia, nor of its shareholders, personnel and customers”.