Saying that ABN AMRO must put the estimated $21 billion sale of its LaSalle Bank unit to a shareholder vote before it agrees to a takeover by Barclays Bank, a Dutch court put the brakes on the transaction and created an opportunity for rival bidders led by Royal Bank of Scotland to take over the company.

The court reasoned that the sale of LaSalle Bank was so intricately woven with the sale of ABN AMRO that it should have been approved by shareholders first, according to press reports. ABN AMRO officials disagreed, saying that the transaction was too small to warrant such a move. According to some reports, shareholders saw the LaSalle Bank sale as an attempt out outmaneuver the RBS consortium, which offered about $98.1 billion, and prevent it from breaking up the company. Barclays Bank had offered about $80 billion for ABN AMRO.

ABN AMRO and the RBS consortium each say that the other's proposal for a bought-out company would lead to unacceptably high layoffs.

From a structured finance standpoint, market sources have said that a LaSalle Bank sale to Bank of America would give the latter a strong commercial mortgage-backed securities origination operation. If, somehow, Barclays Bank is successful in its bid to take over ABN AMRO, market observers say it would have the task of modernizing its way of doing investment banking business.

(c) 2007 Asset Securitization Report and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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