Sat, Aug 27, 2011 - Page 10 News List

ABN Amro to trim more jobs in cost-cutting drive


ABN Amro Group NV, the state-owned lender that includes Fortis’s former Dutch banking assets, plans to trim 2,350 jobs in the next four years, on top of previously announced cuts, as it prepares for a return to the stock market.

The Amsterdam-based bank announced the reductions as it nears the end of an earlier program of 6,000 cuts aimed at eliminating overlaps between the former ABN and Fortis. The new measures should push the Amsterdam-based firm’s cost-income ratio below 60 percent by 2014, it said yesterday.

ABN’s workforce fell to 26,500 at the end of June from 30,200 in 2009, helping limit costs as a proportion of revenue to 63 percent in the first half, down from 75 percent in the year-earlier period. The cuts announced yesterday, which will be partly offset by the creation of 450 new positions, will mostly affect its operations and information technology departments.

The Netherlands bought -Fortis’s Dutch banking and insurance units and its stake in ABN Amro Holding NV in 2008 after the company ran out of short-term funding. Following the 30 billion euro (US$43 billion) bailout, Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager indicated he plans to sell ABN Amro shares as early as 2014, preferably through a stock exchange listing.

ABN booked a 200 million euro pretax restructuring charge in the first half. Underlying net profit for the period, which excludes costs related to the merger, almost tripled to 974 million euros. The bank plans an interim dividend of 200 million euros.

FNV Bondgenoten, the largest Dutch labor union, said it was “shocked” by the plan to shed additional jobs. The union doesn’t see the need for ABN Amro to lower the cost-income ratio to below 60 percent as most comparable Dutch banks have higher ratios, union representative Carla Kiburg said in an e-mail yesterday.

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