AMSTERDAM - Fortis announced a broad review of its businesses Tuesday, and this was viewed as possibly signaling a scaling down of its corporate banking business and some U.S. divestitures.
Analysts said Fortis gave few details of its plans, and most preferred to wait for the company's scheduled release of financial targets in March before reconsidering their outlooks.
Fortis chief executive Anton van Rossum said Tuesday that he will probably raise the targets "to some extent" in March. He gave no reason for expecting an improvement when banking-sector rivals have been issuing profit warnings in recent weeks, but it could be because Fortis is comparing with a low base.
Mr. Van Rossum said that the reviews are aimed at making Fortis leaner and more focused on markets that offer the best growth potential and that it may withdraw from activities that are less profitable.
"We are trying to move the whole chemistry of the company," he said.
He said that Fortis would rebalance its business mix. "We will focus on our home market, growth in Europe, and regional expansion. Anything that doesn't fit should be looked at for divestment."
The review could lead Fortis to scale down its corporate banking services. Analysts have speculated that the company could also sell some parts of its U.S. health insurance business, possibly John Alden, acquired in 1998. Fortis did not address that suggestion Tuesday.
In Europe, Fortis said, it will concentrate on high-growth products in which it can be a market leader. It is also looking at private banking, asset management, and employee benefits. It said expansion could be organic or through alliances and acquisitions.