EUROPE - Fortis today admitted it had a tough first half and pledged to conduct more dialogue with shareholders, as €2.5bn outflows and lower equity markets have impacted negatively on its assets under management.

Presenting its financial results for the first half year of 2008, Fortis said asset management recorded a net profit of €23m - including ABN Amro integration-related costs and purchase price adjustments.

The company added the financial performance "was impacted by the negative market environment combined with net outflows," as funds under management stood at €209.2bn at the end of the first half of 2008 - down from €221.6bn.

Fortis started the year with €132.9bn in assets under management but added €88.7bn of funds under management on April 1 through its takeover of ABN Amro Asset Management, bringing the total to €221.6bn.

Lower equity markets and currency effects have since reduced assets by €9.9bn, while net outflows further reduced underlying funds under management in the first six months of 2008 by €2.5bn, said the group.

Fortis added the €37m net profit of asset management activities was significantly lower year-on-year.

The Belgian-Dutch financial group today also promised shareholders it would step up its efforts towards transparency, organising shareholder meetings in the second half of August in the Netherlands and Belgium.

The move follows earlier activity from consumer organisations Test-Achats and Deminor, and Dutch shareholder rights organisation VEB last month.

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