Barclays CEO Says Not Considering Large ABN Asset Sales
British bank Barclays said on Monday it was not discussing selling any major assets in ABN Amro as part of its takeover proposal, after a newspaper said it may sell ABN's Brazilian business.
"Barclays has not engaged in (nor is it) pursuing discussions relating to major asset sales in connection with its recommended merger with ABN Amro," Chief Executive John Varley said in a comment provided to Reuters.
Separately, Barclays has made key filings on its takeover proposal with regulators in Britain, the Netherlands and a host of other countries to push forward its deal, sources familiar with the situation said.
The British bank has agreed to buy ABN in an all-share deal currently valued at 64 billion euros ($86.5 billion), which would be the world's biggest bank takeover.
In the face of a rival bid, Barclays was considering selling ABN's Brazilian unit so it could lift its offer price, Dutch newspaper Financieele Dagblad reported.
The Barclays bid is being challenged by a consortium of banks led by Royal Bank of Scotland, which along with Fortis and Santander is proposing a 71 billion-euro offer for all of ABN.
The consortium is interested in buying and then breaking up ABN among themselves, with ABN's U.S. operations going to RBS and its Italian and Brazilian businesses going to Santander, leaving Fortis with its Dutch operation.
They are due to issue an update by May 27, which has raised speculation they could launch a formal offer this week. The consortium could also say it remains interested and ask for an extension until a legal dispute becomes clearer, or walk away.
Shares in ABN were up 0.1% at 35.3 euros, while Barclays shares were down 0.3% at 727 pence.
ABN's side deal to sell its U.S. unit LaSalle to Bank of America for $21 billion, announced at the same time as the Barclays offer, has been suspended and landed ABN in a legal struggle and complicated the fight for control of the Dutch bank.
RBS and its partners have said they want to trump the Barclays offer, but only if they can undo the deal to sell LaSalle.
Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that RBS was in talks with Bank of America, possibly with a compromise that would split the U.S. bank's assets between RBS and Bank of America to stave off a complex legal battle and open the door to an RBS-led bid for all of ABN.
Some ABN shareholders have also contested the sale of LaSalle without their consent -- a move they said blocked a more lucrative takeover deal with RBS -- and the sale has been frozen by a Dutch commercial court.
Both ABN and Bank of America have appealed against the court decision. The court plans to reach a decision by mid July.