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An Post-Fortis banking venture gets approval

The Irish government has approved a banking joint venture between An Post and Fortis that will expand the Belgian/Dutch financial services company's reach into the Irish market.

The joint venture company will operate as a fully functioning retail bank, offering a broad range of financial services and products to the Irish market, including insurance, mortgages, and credit cards, as well as telephone and internet banking.

It will employ approximately 250 people initially, rising to 500 within five years, and its products will be rolled out between March and July 2007, An Post has revealed. The Irish multi-service company said in a statement that the joint venture will change the face of banking in Ireland.

An Post and Fortis are investing heavily in the joint venture, which will be a 50/50 partnership between the two companies. An Post will provide access to its network of branches, together with the trading entities PostPoint and One Direct. Fortis, meanwhile, will contribute its international experience and know-how, as well as cash.

The new joint venture will use the network of post offices throughout Ireland to deliver a wide range of retail banking products and services, which An Post says will appeal to the banked and un-banked alike.

Fortis is also pursuing joint ventures elsewhere, and has a joint venture with the Belgian post office already in place.