ABN Amro profit hits €1.2bn, plans share buy-back programme

Coffeeshops with accounts with ABN will pay €110 a month from January.
Coffeeshops with accounts with ABN will pay €110 a month from January.

ABN Amro bank booked net profit of €1.2bn last year and has announced a €500m share buy back programme, much of which will go to the Dutch state.

The state still owns 56% of the bank, which was nationalised in 2008 in the wake of an abortive takeover at a cost of almost €17bn.

The decision to buy back shares is a ‘fully responsible one’, given the financial buffers the bank has built up, chief executive Robert Swaak said in a press statement.

Finance minister Sigrid Kaag wants to reduce the state’s stake in ABN Amro but no timetable has yet been set. The last time the state divested shares was in 2017.

The bank is also planning to close more branches as its shift to digital-only services increases but did not say how many offices will be closed.

The bank said in 2020 it planned to cut its global workforce by 15% by 2024.

From the third quarter of this year, clients will be able to make cardless cash withdrawals and open a joint account digitally. The bank has also doubled the number of financial coaches available to clients who need support with digital banking systems, Swaak said.

The 2021 figures are strongly impacted by one-off items. The bank sold its Amsterdam headquarters for €327m last year, but this was offset by a €480m out of court settlement for poor money laundering controls. ABN Amro also set aside €250m to compensate clients who paid too much interest on loans, increasing this later in the year to €340m.

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