Dutch Court to Decide Thursday on ABN's Sale of LaSalle to BoA

by: Judith Levy

Dutch judge Huub Willems of the Enterprise Chamber will decide this Thursday whether or not ABN Amro may proceed with its sale of LaSalle Bank to Bank of America. The Dutch shareholders' group VEB took ABN to court to protest the $21 billion sale, which was announced last week concurrently with the announcement that ABN was to be sold to Barclays for $91 billion in stock. VEB contends that the sale of LaSalle to BoA is illegal because shareholders were not consulted. It views the sale as a "poison pill" intended to thwart other, better offers -- particularly a rival $98.5 billion cash bid from a consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland [RBS] that wants to break up ABN. The consortium has arranged financing for most of their bid, which is 70% cash and 30% RBS shares. A freeze of the LaSalle sale could set off a long legal battle that could undermine the sale of ABN to Barclays and expose ABN to costly damages claims from BoA. RBS is said to be preparing a counterbid for LaSalle that would be contingent on the consortium's buying all of ABN. In related news, Cees Maas, the former CFO of Dutch bank ING Groep, said ING had examined a combination with ABN and concluded it would not create sufficient value. He also took ABN's board to task for "failing to come through on [its] promises."

Sources: Wall Street Journal, CNN.com, Reuters, Bloomberg, Forbes
Commentary: ABN Shareholders Determined to Thwart LaSalle Sale to BoAABN Amro Now Seeking Rival Bids for LaSalleABN Amro Takeover: Rival Trio Tops Barclays with $98.5 Billion Bid
Stocks/ETFs to watch: ABN Amro Holding N.V. (ABN), Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS), Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc [ADR] (RBSPY), Fortis NV [ADR] (FORSY), Bank of America Corp. (NYSE:BAC). Competitors: HSBC Holdings plc ADR (HBC), Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE:DB), UBS AG (NYSE:UBS). ETFs: First Trust Morningstar Div Leaders Idx (NYSEARCA:FDL), PowerShares Intl Dividend Achievers (NASDAQ:PID), iShares MSCI Netherlands Index (NYSEARCA:EWN)

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