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Last Updated: Monday, 23 April 2007, 13:44 GMT 14:44 UK
Barclays agrees 45bn Dutch deal
John Varley and Rijkman Groenink
ABN's Rijkman Groenink (right) with John Varley who would be CEO
Britain's Barclays bank has agreed to merge with Dutch bank ABN Amro in a deal worth 45bn (66bn euros; $90bn).

The move will create one of the world's biggest banks, valued at 94bn and with its headquarters in the Netherlands.

The companies said about 12,800 jobs would be cut as a result of the merger, while a further 10,800 jobs would be moved to low-cost locations.

A rival group led by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) may also make a bid but has delayed a meeting with ABN Amro.

Bidding war?

The consortium, also including Spanish bank Santander - which owns the UK's Abbey - and Belgian bank Fortis, had planned to discuss its proposals with ABN Amro bosses on Monday.

But it cancelled the meeting pending more details about ABN Amro's planned $21bn sale of its US arm LaSalle to Bank of America - also announced on Monday - which RBS opposes.

47 million customers
27 million credit card holders
217,000 staff
Sales of 94bn
UK-owned firm
Headquartered in Amsterdam

Some analysts believe that RBS will offer a higher price for the Dutch bank, paving the way for a bidding war.

The BBC's Business Editor Robert Peston said the Barclays offer faced major obstacles in the form of the rival consortium and the need to secure regulatory approval in 70 countries.

Barclays and ABN said they expect most of the cuts to their 217,000 workforce to be achieved through natural wastage, the majority coming in the UK, Spain and Italy.

British unions said they would seek assurances from Barclays that it would not impose any compulsory redundancies.

"We have every confidence that this process of change can be managed through our existing job security agreements," said an official from Amicus.

I think Barclays may have played their hand already
David Cumming, Standard Life Investments

Barclays said it was not concerned about any rival offer and was focusing instead on the "growth opportunities" offered by its proposals.

"The proposed merger will significantly enhance stand-alone product development capabilities and distribution," said its chief executive John Varley.

The enlarged group would have 47 million customers, including 27 million credit card holders.

Regulated in Britain

The proposed deal, which must be approved by regulators and shareholders, would see Barclays shareholders owning 52% of the enlarged Barclays Group and ABN Amro investors owning the remainder.

Barclays would continue to be regulated and pay tax in the UK.

BBC business editor Robert Peston
There could be a spate of cross border takeovers within Europe
Robert Peston,
BBC business editor

Barclays shares were down 2.5% in afternoon trading in London after the terms of the deal were announced.

One analyst said it was far from certain Barclays would be successful, as the RBS consortium may offer a higher price since its proposal would guarantee more cost savings.

"I think Barclays may have played their hand already," David Cumming, from Standard Life Investments, told the BBC.

"I expect them [Royal Bank of Scotland] to be favourites in the end," he said.

Barclays 'about to bid' for ABN
22 Apr 07 |  Business
Profits rise at merger target ABN
16 Apr 07 |  Business
ABN bid battle 'could go hostile'
15 Apr 07 |  Business
ABN Amro break-up 'not a problem'
09 Apr 07 |  Business

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