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Royal Bank of Scotland to Decide on Bid for ABN May 29

AP
Friday, 25 May 2007 | 7:48 AM ET

A consortium of banks led by Royal Bank of Scotland will decide by May 29 whether it will make an official bid for the Netherlands' ABN Amro, it said in a statement Friday.

The RBS-led banks had previously said they would decide by May 27 whether they would push ahead with a hostile bid to beat Barclays' friendly all-share offer worth around 61.9 billion euros ($83.3 billion).

In a short statement, the consortium banks said they were pushing back the date because Monday is a holiday in Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands.

They said on the 29th they will "make an announcement...clarifying whether or not, and if so under what circumstances" they will bid for ABN Amro Holding . Previously, the banks had said they planned to make a mostly cash offer worth around 38.40 euros per ABN Amro share, or 69.9 billion euros ($94.1 billion).

Barclays CEO John Varley says its offer is a merger, while an RBS takeover would amount to a carve-up of ABN: RBS's partners are Belgian-Dutch bank Fortis, which wants ABN's Dutch operations, and Spanish bank Banco Santander Central Hispano , which wants ABN's Brazilian and Italian arms.

The fight to acquire ABN Amro has been mired since ABN's management agreed on the side to sell its U.S. arm, LaSalle Bank of Chicago, to Bank of America for $21 billion (15.5 billion euros), with the proceeds going to Barclays.

That was widely seen as a poison pill measure to ward off the hostile bid from RBS, which also wants LaSalle.

A Dutch court froze the LaSalle deal, ruling that ABN's management had overstepped its bounds by agreeing to it without consulting shareholders. But Bank of America filed suit in the United States to ensure the deal goes through, arguing that its purchase contract is binding.

Hearings in the U.S. case and three separate appeals of the Dutch ruling are pending, and threaten to drag on for months or even years. RBS and BofA have declined to comment on reports they are working on a compromise in the meantime.

ABN shares fell 0.3% to 35.40 euros ($47.59) in Amsterdam. That's above Barclays' offer, which is worth around 33.86 euros ($45.52) per share at current prices, but well below the level of the prospective RBS bid, suggesting investors are unsure which will prevail.

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