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Bancassurance on the Bosphorus: Emerging European Bank profile

AT FIRST GLANCE the presence of Fortis in Turkey might seem a little surprising. Until recently the Benelux banking and insurance group’s operations were largely based in the developed – for which read rather staid and boring – markets of western Europe.

Fortis Bank’s chief executive officer in Turkey, Yvan De Cock, for example, was latterly head of UK operations before being transferred to Istanbul in May 2006 to head Fortis’s newly established outfit in Turkey, which could never ever be accused of being dull. But as De Cock explains, Fortis’s decision to set up shop in Turkey following the purchase of 94% of Disbank in late 2005 was a logical development given the socio-economic environment in the country and the Fortis business strategy, which is increasingly being geared towards exploiting opportunities available in emerging Europe so as to increase profits outside its Benelux home region to a target level of 30%."If you understand Turkey and you understand Fortis then it makes perfect sense for us to be here. From a strategic point of view you have to look at high-growth markets and Turkey arguably has the highest growth potential in the whole region," De Cock says.

On the socio-economic front De Cock argues that the statistics all point towards Turkey being one of the most exciting and potentially profitable banking markets in Europe. With the population forecast to reach 95 million by 2040 Turkey is set to become the most populous country west of the former Soviet Union.

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