Barclays, ABN Amro Agree to Extend Merger Talks to Friday

Barclays and Dutch bank ABN AMRO agreed on Tuesday to extend their ongoing exclusive merger talks until Friday, April 20.

ABN and Barclays entered merger talks last month after ABN came under pressure from investors, including British hedge fund TCI, to consider a sale or breakup to boost shareholder returns after several years of underperformance.

ABN did not give a reason for extending talks, but said in a statement: "The discussions, which seek to incorporate the broad objectives set out on 20 March 2007, are progressing, but there can be no certainty that they will lead to a transaction or the form it will take."

ABN and Barclays had said on March 20 that they were discussing the possibility of a merger of a combined entity that would be listed in London, headquartered in Amsterdam and split the two top jobs. A bid price has yet to be set.

Since then, a consortium of Royal Bank of Scotland, Belgian-Dutch group Fortis and Spain's Santander asked the Dutch bank to consider takeover talks, which would entail a break-up of ABN's extensive, global retail and wholesale banking operations.