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EU Sets Deadline for Consortium Bid for ABN Amro

European Union regulators on Thursday set a Sept. 19 deadline to approve bids from a consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland for Dutch bank ABN Amro Holding.

RBS, Spain's Banco Santander Central Hispano and Dutch-Belgian bank Fortis plan to carve up ABN Amro's assets between them and are offering 70.6 billion euros ($96.5 billion) to rival a bid from British bank Barclays of 61 billion pounds ($82.3 billion; 60.6 billion euros).

The European Commission is looking at the consortium's offer as three separate takeover bids, putting the Santander takeover on a fast-track approval process that could see its offer cleared automatically if officials don't identify any antitrust problems or receive complaints from rivals within a deadline of 25 working days.

Neither the RBS nor Fortis bids were put on the fast track, although they also received an initial deadline of Sept. 19. This can be extended if the EU needs more time to examine problems.

Barclays got the EU all-clear for its offer on Aug. 9 as regulators said they saw no difficulties with its takeover plans. On Monday it received approval from the Dutch central bank and Finance Minister Wouter Bos for its proposed takeover, while the RBS consortium -- which began seeking approval a month later than Barclays -- has yet to get that blessing.

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