In the battle for ABN Amro, the consortium of RBS, Fortis, and Santander has
now clearly bested its rival, Barclays. The RBS consortium’s bid is about 20%
higher than Barclays’ bid, thanks largely to Barclays’ sinking stock price,
and Barclays now looks much more like a takeover target itself than a serious
suitor for the Dutch giant.
And so it is that the RBS consortium, having seen off Barclays, is now turning
its attention to the one last obstacle standing in its way: ABN Amro’s shareholders.
They might prefer the consortium’s bid to Barclays’ bid, but what if a lot of
them prefer no bid at all, and would rather their bank remain independent? At
the moment, the consortium requires 80 percent of ABN shareholders to accept
its offer for it to be declared unconditional, which means that an apathetic
20%, simply not voting at all, could throw a nasty spanner in the works.
So the 80% figure might not last long: the consortium announced
today that it might accept just a simple majority of acceptances. The move
makes the consortium’s bid seem a little bit weaker than it was before, but
that’s not a major worry: after all, to all intents and purposes the consortium
is now the sole bidder for ABN Amro. There might be a small question mark over
getting 80%, while 50% is a foregone conclusion, thanks to the number of arbitrageurs
in the stock.