ABN Amro says no change at the top

ABN Amro said on Friday it had no plans to make changes to its top management following yesterday’s court ruling freezing the planned sale of LaSalle to Bank of America.

Pressure is mounting on ABN Amro boss Rijkman Groenink to quit. ‘Groenink is not the man who should lead the sale process or chair the board,’ said Peter Paul de Vries, director of shareholders’ lobby group VEB, which brought yesterday’s lawsuit.
Analysts also said it was ‘inappropriate’ for Groenink to stay in the job. On Tuesday, hedge fund TCI, which mounted its attack on Groenink’s performance in February, wrote to ABN Amro’s supervisory board saying the chairman should be sacked.
The Amsterdam company court on Thursday stopped ABN Amro from selling its US unit LaSalle, saying the sale marked a change of strategy for the bank and should be put to shareholders for approval.
The decision is a major blow for ABN Amro, which wanted to sell LaSalle for $21bn and then merge with Barclays. Not only does it open the door to a hostile bid from a consortium of banks led by Royal Bank of Scotland, it could also lead to damages claims from Bank of America. The RBS consortium wants to take over the entire ABN Amro group and divide it up.
ABN Amro reiterated on Friday that a takeover by Barclay’s remained the bank’s preferred option, but said it would work constructively with the consortium. The Wall Street Journal reported that Groenink was to meet consortium members on Friday.

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