‘Central bank opposed ABN Amro split’: FD

Nout Wellink, president of the Dutch central bank, fought passionately to win political support to block the split up of Holland’s largest bank ABN Amro, reports Thursday’s Financieele Dagblad.

Quoting unnamed sources, the paper says Wellink was fiercely against the takeover, mounted by a consortium led by the Royal Bank of Scotland. RBS, which eventually beat off ABN Amro’s preferred partner Barclays, said from the start it planned to divide up the Dutch group between the three consortium members.
The paper also says that hedge funds threatened the Dutch state with damage claims of €10bn if the consortium’s proposal to split up the ABN Amro bank was blocked by the government.
The threat was contained in a letter from the The Children’s Investment (TCI) fund to the central bank and finance ministry in August, the paper says.
The central bank and the finance minister approved the takeover by the consortium in September under strict conditions.
Finance minister Wouter Bos has said repeatedly in the past that there were no legal grounds to refuse permission.
But, the Financieele Dagblad claims Wellink warned politicians of the major risks which would be involved in the complicated division of the bank between the three consortium partners, RBS, Fortis and Spanish bank Santander.
And if he had managed to get political support and public opinion behind him in the early stages, the consortium bid would not have stood up, the paper says.
Neither the finance ministry nor the central bank wished to comment on the story, said the Financieele Dagblad.
The €72bn take-over of ABN Amro at the beginning of October is the largest such deal in financial services history.

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