The Amsterdam company court will decide on Thursday if ABN Amro should have asked its shareholders before agreeing to sell LaSalle to Bank of America for $21bn.
The Dutch shareholders lobby group VEB went to court over the sale on Saturday, arguing the sale was a poison pill to make ABN Amro less attractive to the banking consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland.
ABN Amro wants to merge with British bank Barclays. The rival RBS-led bid wants to take over the Dutch banking group and split it up. RBS itself was after LaSalle.
VEB argues that the LaSalle sale, announced the same day as the Barclays deal and apparently put together in just four days, was so fundamental that it should have been discussed by shareholders.
News agency ANP reported that ABN Amro’s lawyer told the court some 10 other interested parties have approached it about LaSalle, including RBS. This is thought to be unlikely by analysts. Other offers for the US bank can be made until May 6.
Rijkman Groenink, ABN Amro’s chairman, told the court that he feared a multi-billion dollar damages claim from Bank of America if the sale was halted.
According to an opinion poll by Maurice de Hond, one third of ABN Amro customers say they are considering switching banks if ABN Amro is taken over. While almost half of those polled don’t care about the takeover, Barclays is more popular as a new owner than the consortium.
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