AMSTERDAM - In the latest European move toward banking-insurance integration, the Dutch-Belgian financial services group Fortis has signed a definitive agreement for an insurance joint venture in Spain with that country's largest savings bank, La Caixa.
Fortis, the holding company for the Dutch insurance and banking group Amev NV and Belgian insurer Groupe AG, said the new joint venture will control 80% of La Caixa's VidaCaixa's life insurance unit and its SegurCaixa nonlife unit.
La Caixa, formally Caja de Ahorros y Pensiones de Barcelona, with $62 billion in assets, will hold a direct 20% stake in VidaCaixa, while Fortis will hold a direct 20% stake in SegurCaixa.
Fortis said it will pay the equivalent of $225 million for its 50% stake in the new joint venture and its 20% of SegurCaixa.
The new company will sell life and nonlife policies in Spain, mainly through La Caixa's branch network.
Fortis uses savings banks, mainly its VSB savings bank subsidiary in the Netherlands, to distribute insurance products.
The La Caixa agreement is subject to national and European Community approvals.