Pressure is mounting on ABN Amro boss Rijkman Groenink to quit following yesterday’s court ruling which froze the sale of LaSalle to Bank of America. ‘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 yesterdays law suit.
Analysts too 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, but it could lead to damages claims from Bank of America. The RBS consortium wants to take over the entire ABN Amro group and divide it up.
The battle for ABN Amro is set to be the biggest in financial services history.
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