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KBC targets growth in earnings per share of at least 12%

KBC, Belgium's second-largest financial-services company after Fortis, is targeting average growth of at least 12% for earnings per share, driven by expansion in central and eastern Europe and asset management.

KBC Group NV will buy back €3 billion ($4 billion) of its stock in the 2007-2009 period, the Brussels-based company said today in an e-mailed statement. KBC last month reported third-quarter profit almost doubled to €1.08 billion, buoyed by a gain from the sale of the Spanish unit Banco Urquijo. „Given the current high market price for external growth, we prefer an organic-growth business model,” said CEO Andre Bergen in the statement today.

KBC's strategy, similar to Italy's UniCredit SpA and Fortis, aims to tap sales of financial services that are growing faster than in many western European nations. The company is looking to expand in countries such as Poland, Hungary and the Balkans. KBC CFO Herman Agneessens said November 23 that he doesn't expect any „upsets” for KBC's full-year profit. (Bloomberg)