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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 March 2007, 00:06 GMT
Barclays planning Dutch HQ move
Bicycles in Amsterdam
Barclays staff may have a different commute if the deal goes through
UK bank Barclays has moved closer to taking over Dutch rival ABN Amro after agreeing to move its headquarters to Amsterdam and share some top jobs.

Should the takeover go ahead, it would create a bank worth as much as 80bn ($155bn), with 47 million customers and 220,000 staff worldwide.

Barclays said on Tuesday it was in exclusive talks with ABN.

The merger would be one of the biggest in the financial services sector and may prompt rival bids, analysts said.

'Seeking assurances'

Under the terms that are currently being hammered out, Barclays chief executive John Varley probably would keep the same job in the new bank.

ABN's Rijkman Groenink would probably be chairman under the proposals.

Other proposals include having a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and a secondary one in Amsterdam.

Barclays logo
Barclays may become a takeover target itself, analysts say

The lenders also propose using the Dutch Central Bank as the lead regulator and basing its management structures and governance on UK models.

While the make-up of the firm may seem complex, it has worked with Anglo-Dutch oil producer Royal Dutch Shell.

Barclays said that moving the company's headquarters to Amsterdam "probably would not have any impact" on staff employed at its current UK base. Trade union Amicus said that while talks were at an early stage, it would be seeking a meeting with Barclays should the deal go ahead.

"We have been given assurances from Barclays that if these talks progress a special meeting of the European Works Council will be convened in order to brief trade union representatives," said the trade union's Keith Brookes.

"Amicus is seeking assurances from Barclays that if an agreement is reached it will not result in job losses from Barclays' UK operations," he said.

More players

Analysts said that Barclays was making concessions to ABN in order for the deal to be viewed as friendly and accepted quickly so that there would be less time for rivals to come in and trump its offer.

Other banks, including ING, BBVA and BNP Paribas, have already said they would be interested in buying all or part of ABN.

Royal Bank of Scotland and Italy's Capitalia are among banking groups who are also thought to be interested in buying some or all of ABN's businesses.

In recent years, ABN - the Netherlands' biggest bank - has cut jobs to control costs so it can expand into new markets and face down more competition.

Barclays, the UK's third-largest bank, wants access to ABN's foreign businesses, in particular its Asian operations, analysts said.

In recent months two UK hedge funds - TCI and Toscafund - have criticised the Dutch bank for its poor performance and both are understood to be calling for a shake-up at the group.

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