In a boost to Barclays' bid for ABN Amro, Dutch Advocate General Levinus Timmerman said Monday ABN Amro does not need shareholder approval to proceed with its sale of LaSalle Bank. The Dutch Supreme Court, which is expected to decide in July whether or not to reverse an Amsterdam Enterprise Court ruling that froze the sale, had asked for the Advocate General's opinion. LaSalle is a bone of contention between Barclays and a three-bank consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland, both of which have made offers for ABN. The Barclays offer is contingent on ABN's selling LaSalle, while the consortium's offer is contingent on LaSalle's remaining part of the Dutch banking giant. ABN, which accepted the Barclays offer, signed a deal with Bank of America to sell it LaSalle for $21 billion. ABN shareholders went to court to stop that sale, alleging ABN had improperly sold the asset without their approval, in order to thwart the RBS bid. The Supreme Court follows the Advocate General's opinion in eight out of 10 cases, according to banking analysts. "It's a tennis match, and right now it's advantage Barclays," said Man Securities analyst Mamoun Tazi.
Sources: Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Reuters, Dow Jones
Commentary: Bank of America Postpones ABN Amro Suit • Bank of America Criticizes "Shocking" Dutch Court Ruling on LaSalle Sale -- FT • Atticus Capital: We Can Block Barclays' Bid for ABN
Stocks/ETFs to watch: ABN Amro Holding N.V. (ABN), Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS), Bank of America Corp. (NYSE:BAC), Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc [ADR] (RBSPY.PK), Fortis NV [ADR] (FORSY). Competitors: HSBC Holdings plc ADR (HBC), Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE:DB), UBS AG (NYSE:UBS). ETFs: iShares MSCI Netherlands Index (NYSEARCA:EWN), streetTRACKS KBW Bank (NYSEARCA:KBE), HOLDRS Regional Bank (NYSEARCA:RKH)
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