A court in Amsterdam has blocked a key part of a proposed deal, which could spell the end of Barclays’ plans to take over the Dutch bank ABN-AMRO.
ABN-AMRO’s directors have been stopped from selling off its American arm, LaSalle, to the Bank of America for 15-and-a-half billion euros.
The disposal of LaSalle was part of the proposed merger deal hammered out between ABN and Barclays in the UK.
But the court ruled that the directors cannot take the decision alone, and the deal must be put to shareholders.
A group of ABN shareholders had gone to court, saying that the LaSalle sale was designed to deter any other potential contenders.
And the ruling means that ABN is now open to rival bids – notably from a consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland.
RBS, along with Spanish bank Santander, and the Belgian-Dutch financiers Fortis have said they could pay up to 72-billion euros for ABN – with LaSalle intact – and that would trump the Barclays offer of 66-billion euros.
Should the RBS consortium win, the stated intention is to break up ABN-AMRO.
Barclays have said they would move the group’s HQ to Amsterdam if they are successful.