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Barclay's bank has informally approached Dutch bank ABN Amro about a possible takeover. Neither bank has commented on the speculation. A takeover of the number-one Dutch bank by the number-three British bank would result in the biggest-ever financial-services merger in Europe. The combined bank would be worth 80 billion pounds ($155 billion). Barclays is said to be offering about €60 billion ($80 billion) for ABN, which has a market cap of €50 billion ($66.6 billion). An acquisition of ABN, which has outlets in 53 countries, would boost Barclays' retail presence in such markets as the U.S., Asia, Brazil, the Benelux region and Italy, and would enhance its securities, asset- and wealth-management services. Other banks said to be interested in ABN include BNP Paribas SA and Societe Generale. ABN's stock, which has lagged its peers' for years, has appreciated 7.5% over the past month on takeover speculation after activist investors, led by TCI Fund Management, began to prod the bank to merge, sell itself or spin off assets. ABN is expected to release new details of its restructuring plan, which includes cost-cutting measures and sales of non-core businesses, just prior to its April 26 annual shareholders' meeting.

Sources: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Bloomberg
Commentary: ABN AMRO: Children's Investment Fund Urges Break-Up or SaleWho In Europe Is Likely to Be the Next LBO Target?The Long Case for Barclays
Stocks/ETFs to watch: Barclays PLC [ADR] (NYSE:BCS), ABN AMRO Holding N.V. [ADR] (ABN). Competitors: Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE:DB), JP Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Lloyds TSB Group plc (NYSE:LYG). ETFs: PowerShares International Dividend Achievers (NYSEARCA:PID), iShares MSCI Netherlands Index (NYSEARCA:EWN)

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Source: Barclays Approaches ABN Amro Regarding Possible Takeover