BELGIUM - Fortis, part of the banking-trio that has bought ABN Amro, will begin demerging ABN Amro's asset management from the bank arm, and start adding it to its own asset management business.

The Belgian-French bank announced today it expects to demerge the Dutch bank's two entities at the end of the first quarter, following the Dutch central bank, DNB's approval of Fortis' proposals.

The firm has nominated Richard Wohanka, the head for Fortis Investment Management, as the new chief executive of the combined asset management entity, though his appointment is still subject to regulatory and work councils' approval.

It has been estimated the purchase will triple Fortis' asset management business through the takeover of ABN Amro's €254bn global asset management arm, though a spokeswoman this morning said Fortis will only disclose the size of its asset under management on March 7, during the presentation of its annual report.

Jean-Paul Votron, chief executive officer of Fortis, said in a statement this morning the demerger is "a major step forward and a key milestone in the integration process of the ABN Amro activities" that will join Fortis.

Wohanka commented DNB's consent to the proposals is "the successful culmination" of several months' work and cooperation between the two asset managers and the Dutch authorities.

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