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Wed, Aug 15, 2007 - Page 10 News List

ABN Amro suitor purchases shares on the open market


A trio of banks led by Royal Bank of Scotland PLC (RBS) said yesterday it bought a 3.25 percent stake in ABN Amro Holding NV -- the Dutch bank it is attempting to buy for 70.6 billion euros (US$96.5 billion) in the largest takeover in the history of the banking industry.

The move will not change the fundamental dynamics of the RBS-led group fight with Barclays PLC to buy ABN but is an opportunistic move by the group to possibly save a little money and strengthen its hand.

The RBS-led group said it bought more than 40 million shares on the open market at an average price of 33.81 euros (US$46.23) per share on Monday and Friday -- when ABN Amro's shares fell beneath both offer prices amid panic selling.

At current share price levels, the RBS group's mostly cash bid is worth 38.13 euros (US$52.14) per ABN share, while Barclays' mostly share bid is worth 33.78 euros (US$46.19).

ABN shares closed at 34.48 euros (US$47.15) on Monday, suggesting investors are uncertain which bid would prevail.

Shareholders will meet on Sept. 20 to discuss the rival bids.

Barclays on Monday received approval from the Dutch central bank and Finance Minister Wouter Bos for its proposed takeover on Monday, while the RBS consortium -- which began seeking approval a month later than Barclays -- has yet to hear yea or nay.

"The minister emphasizes ... that his decision is not connected to requests from other parties ... for a merger or takeover of ABN Amro," Bos' office said in a release late on Monday. "The current approval does not express a preference for a certain party."

The consortium said in a statement yesterday it might make further purchases of ABN Amro shares "within the limits of qualifying interest criteria determined by regulators."

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