Britain’s Barclays Bank and rival ABN Amro of the Netherlands are reportedly in talks about merging. The discussions are understood to be at an early stage, but being conducted at the highest level with Barclay’s Chief Executive John Varley personally involved.
ABN Amro – which is the biggest Dutch bank -has been under-performing and is under pressure from investors to merge or split up its business. A merger would create a bank that is fourth or fifth in the world, with 47 million customers in over 50 countries. It would have 220,000 employees worldwide and be worth around 123 billion euros.
A tie-up would give Barclays access to areas where it is weak, particularly Asia where the Dutch bank operates in India, Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Analysts are divided on the chances of a deal some saying this is realistic and makes sense on a strategic and geographical basis, but others think it is unlikely to happen. Several other banks have been mentioned as possible suitors including Dutch rival ING, Spain’s BBVA and France’s BNP Paribas and Societe Generale.