Supreme Court allows LaSalle sale

13th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

13 July 2007, THE HAGUE (AP) - ABN Amro's sale of its U.S. arm LaSalle to Bank of America was lawful, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled Friday - overturning a lower court's move blocking the sale, and now the USD 21 billion (EUR 15.5 billion) sale is virtually certain to succeed.

13 July 2007

THE HAGUE (AP) - ABN Amro's sale of its U.S. arm LaSalle to Bank of America was lawful, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled Friday - overturning a lower court's move blocking the sale, and now the USD 21 billion (EUR 15.5 billion) sale is virtually certain to succeed.

However, the larger fight between Barclays PLC and a consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland PLC to buy ABN Amro Holding NV will likely continue.

"Now that the sale of LaSalle is definite, the interests of Bank of America and Barclays should be taken into account," the ruling said.

"There should not be any unnecessary uncertainty about the carrying out of this agreement, into which the board of directors of ABN Amro was entitled to enter."

Bank of America spokesman Frans van der Grint called the ruling "a complete victory for us and ABN Amro."

"We're satisfied with this ruling which will allow us to complete the transaction as soon as possible," he said.

Barclays has proposed an all-share merger with ABN worth EUR 63 billion or EUR 34.05  per share at current levels. The RBS consortium's mostly cash offer is worth EUR 70 billion or EUR 38.29 per share - but it was dependent on LaSalle remaining within ABN.

ABN shares were up 0.6 percent to EUR 35.55 Friday, suggesting considerable doubt continues as to which offer will prevail. Barclays shares rose 1 percent to 725.5 pence (EUR 10.71) on the London Stock Exchange, where RBS shares gained 1 percent to 641 pence (EUR 9.46). Fortis gained 0.7 percent to EUR 31.27.

Analysts from Keefe, Bruyette and Woods predicted ahead of the ruling that the consortium will likely rebid.

"In our view, there are strong incentives for the consortium not to modify the current offer structure too much," they said in a research note.

RBS partner Fortis NV of Belgium wants ABN's Dutch operations, while Banco Santander Central Hispano SA of Spain wants its Italian and Brazilian operations. Even without LaSalle, RBS is interested in ABN Amro's investment banking operations and the rest of its global operations unclaimed by Fortis or Santander.

[Copyright AP 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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