Court ratifies ABN's La Salle sale

13-07-2007

Court ratifies ABN's La Salle sale
Barclays' frozen takeover bid for Dutch bank ABN Amro looks back on track after a ruling from the Dutch supreme court.

The €64 billion (£43 billion) takeover offer was conditional on ABN's proposed sale of its La Salle subsidiary to the Bank of America, a move challenged in May by Dutch shareholder group VEB.

Its successful court action resulted in the sale being frozen but, after the Netherlands' advocate general said last month the sale did not require a shareholder vote, the supreme court has today overturned that decision.

The ratification is bad news for a consortium of three banks headed by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which had tabled a rival €71 billion (£48 billion) offer for the bank and was hoping to succeed if the Barclays bid collapsed.

Commentators had speculated that such an eventuality might prompt a lawsuit from the RBS-led consortium to try and block the sell-off.

Despite today's apparently decisive ruling, others have observed that the success of the Barclays bid is by no means assured.

"At this moment it's very likely the LaSalle sale will happen, but the takeover battle is not over,'' VEB director Paul De Vries was quoted as saying by the Bloomberg news agency.

Hedge fund Atticus Capital, which owns one per cent of shares in the bank, is leading a campaign to persuade shareholders to oppose the bid.


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