...according to Belgium Minister of Finance Didier Reynders. I think it was a Bismarck line to never believe anything until it has been officially denied. But that probably does not apply in this case.

Nonetheless, Fortis shares are off 40% since 1 September and the cost of protecting their bonds from default has surged to record levels, according to Bloomberg this morning.

This is all about Tier 1 adequacy levels related to absorbing the circling albatross of ABN Amro operations. Fortis need €5bn by 2010 (their timetable); their market cap is about €13.6bn as I type; and the capital raising window - be it equity, debt or disposals - is currently hardly open.

Oh, yes. Fortis have also this morning, in an attempt to quell "rumours", said that only 3% of its Benelux retail and private-banking customer assets have left it since 1 January.


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