Belgian-Dutch financial services group Fortis has reported a 33 per cent rise in second-quarter net profit. The results beat analyst expectations of £665 million to achieve £936 million.

The performance took first half net profit before divestments, from £1.42 billion last year to £1.83 billion this year, an increase of 29 per cent.

The group, which has a presence in Birmingham, said it would give new financial targets in March 2007.

Analysts said this implied it might raise its long-term goal for average annual organic growth of ten per cent in net profit before capital gains for 2005 to 2009.

"These results are clearly ahead of what we had expected, and the strongest part is banking," said Degroof analyst Ivan Lathouders.

"Fortis also said it would bring new financial targets - higher ones - and that will drive valuations going forward."

The Birmingham office, which has 22 staff, has 200 clients including Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries, Enterprise Inns, Dechra and Triton.

Expertise offered by the bank includes acquisition finance, traditional lending, cross border cash management, leasing and invoice discounting and factoring.

The company's banking business drove much of the performance, increasing profits by 36 per cent to £1.38 billion caused by "good commercial momentum" across all its businesses.

This included new initiatives being rolled out in retail banking, with credit shops opening in Germany and Poland.

Insurance increased profits by five per cent to £485 million.

Chief executive Jean-Paul Votron said: "These are excellent interim results, which have grown in line with our strategy.

"Our figures, such as the respective 20 per cent and 34 per cent increases in interest and commission income in banking, show that commercial activity is driving profitable growth.

"These results also confirm the continued internationalisation of our activities with already 20 per cent of our profit now coming from out-side the Benelux countries.

"We expect the commercial momentum to be sustained in the second half of this year."