RBS steps up pressure on ABN AMRO

London, Apr 29 | Updated: Apr 30 2007, 05:30am hrs
Three banks led by Royal Bank of Scotland said on Friday they were ready to make an unsolicited offer for ABN AMRO stepping up pressure on the Dutch bank to give full access to its books.

The consortium, which also includes Spains Santander and Belgian-Dutch group Fortis said earlier this week it had proposed a $98 billion bid for the Dutch bank, trumping an earlier agreed offer with Britains Barclays .

But their proposed offer was conditional on ABN scrapping its planned $21 billion sale of US unit LaSalle Banka key asset for suitor RBSto Bank of America. The banks said on Friday that the conditions of that salewhich include a go-shop clause allowing ABN until midnight on May 6 to seek higher bids for the US unitprompted the formal notification to ABNs board late on Thursday.

This is a procedural move. It keeps the options open, a source close to the matter said, adding the banks had not yet signed a controversial confidentiality agreement that would allow them access to ABNs books.

ABN said in the early hours of Thursday it would allow the banks due diligence subject to confidentiality clauseswhich the suitor banks later said included a 12-month provision precluding an unsolicited offer.

The banks said in a statement that under Dutch regulation they are not permitted to provide details of the price they had indicated in their notice to ABNs boards.

The banks continue to believe that their proposals offer materially higher value for ABN AMROs shareholders and benefits to customers and employees compared with the recommended offer from Barclays, the consortium said in the statement.

The banks have invited the supervisory and managing boards of ABN AMRO to discuss the banks proposals further as soon as possible. ABN declined to comment.