July 21, 2007 / 10:48 AM / 13 years ago

ABN CEO says merger with Barclays is better: report

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Barclays would make a better merger candidate with ABN AMRO than a bid by a group led by Royal Bank of Scotland aimed at breaking up the Dutch bank, a Dutch newspaper quoted ABN’s chief executive as saying on Saturday.

The head office of ABN AMRO bank is seen in Amsterdam May 29, 2007. Barclays would make a better merger candidate with ABN AMRO than a bid by a group led by Royal Bank of Scotland aimed at breaking up the Dutch bank, a Dutch newspaper quoted ABN's chief executive as saying on Saturday. REUTERS/Koen van Weel

But ABN AMRO AHH.AS CEO Rijkman Groenink told NRC Handelsblad that a majority of the bank’s shareholders was likely to back the higher RBS (RBS.L) bid.

“I am still convinced a merger with Barclays (BARC.L) is the best. It is better in terms of the content but as for the amount, it is not good enough,” Groenink said in an interview.

ABN’s boards have recommended Barclays’ all-share offer currently worth about 35 euros (23.5 pounds) per ABN share.

The RBS consortium, which includes Spain’s Santander (SAN.MC) and Belgian-Dutch group Fortis FOR.BR, is offering 38.4 euros per share for ABN, of which the cash component would be 93 percent.

The group plans to break up ABN, which has more than 4,500 branches across 53 countries.

Either bid would rank as the world’s biggest bank takeover.

ABN said on Wednesday it planned to discuss the consortium’s revised offer with both the group’s members and Barclays, prompting speculation it may switch its recommendation.

The majority of ABN’s shareholders was likely to opt for the consortium’s higher offer, Groenink told the newspaper.

“There is a large group of hedge funds and speculators. They have but one interest and that is the highest price, in cash and today preferably. Estimates are that they own 30-40 percent of the bank,” he said.

Groenink also said institutional investors, specifically those in the United States, would be compelled to go for the highest offer.

In April, he recommended the merger with Barclays as the “best option” for shareholders.

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