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Barclays Receives Approval to Delay Its Offer for ABN

Barclays, which is competing with Royal Bank of Scotland to buy ABN Amro Holding in the largest takeover fight in the financial industry's history, said Monday it received approval from Dutch regulators to delay its proposed takeover.

Barclays made an offer to buy ABN Amro in April through an all-stock transaction that currently values the business at 59.3 billion euros ($79.9 billion), or 33.57 euros ($45.47) a share. Its bid is dependent on the $21 billion (15.5 billion euros) sale of ABN's Chicago-based LaSalle Bank to Bank of America going through.

A group led by Royal Bank of Scotland has made a rival bid of 71.1 billion euros ($95.5 billion). RBS wants LaSalle and its offer is dependent on that sale being blocked -- though it could rebid at a lower level if it loses LaSalle.

Amsterdam's Superior Court has blocked the LaSalle sale, bringing the takeover fight to a standstill until the Netherlands Supreme Court finishes reviewing that ruling, which is expected by mid-July.

Barclays was due to launch its formal bid by July 5, but said Monday that since the regulatory vetting of the bid is not yet completed, Dutch financial authorities have allowed an extension and an announcement of the formal offer documentation would be made by July 23.

"Good progress continues to be made in relation to the pre-conditions, documentation and regulatory change of control approvals," Barclays said in a statement.

ABN Amro shares fell 0.2% to 33.98 euros ($45.78) on Euronext -- still above Barclay's offer, suggesting investors remain uncertain which bidder will prevail. Barclays shares gained 0.5% to 699.5 pence ($14.06; 10.36 euros) on the London Stock Exchange.

ABN's management had agreed to sell LaSalle to Bank of America in what was widely seen as a poison pill measure to avoid a deal with RBS. Shareholders protested, saying that such a large sale should have been put to a general meeting.

The Superior Court agreed, in part because the sale was tied to a buyout of ABN as a whole -- which definitely requires shareholder approval.

A top Dutch government lawyer said last month that ABN Amro does not need shareholder approval to sell its U.S. arm, increasing the odds the Supreme Court will rule the LaSalle sale was legal and overturn the lower court decision.

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