BELGIUM - Belgium’s Fortis Bank – which has 12.67 billion euros in European pension assets under management – saw its assets under management slide by 10% in the first three quarters of 2002 as it posted a net loss in the third quarter.

The bank said in its third-quarter earnings statement that its total assets under management declined by 10% to 284.2 billion euros in the first nine months, from 316.11 billion euros in the same period in 2001.

And, due to what its chief executive Anton van Rossum called “exceptional developments in the equity markets” the bank saw the market value of its equity investments “fall below its original cost for the first time in the history of Fortis.”

Last month it told investors that the value of its stock portfolio had fallen 2.1 billion euros below the purchase price as of September 30. This forced it to take a charge to cover the unrealised loss. As of November 15, that loss had narrowed to 1.5 billion euros as markets rebounded, the company said.

In the third quarter, the bank posted a net loss of 1.7 billion euros, compared to a profit of 532 million euros in the prior year period. The company's net revenue fell 6% to 18.9 billion euros during the first nine months.

“We expect net operating profit for the full year, excluding the value adjustment on the equity portfolio, to develop in line with the first three quarters,” says van Rossum added.