Whose toy is it anyway?

Author: | Published: 1 Jul 2007

In an outburst in the Dutch commercial court, ABN Amro CEO Rijkman Groenink described ABN Amro as a "toy of shareholders". In a seemingly carefree way, shareholders choose whether to sell, dismantle or cling on to it. Those following the battle for ABN Amro will understand Groenink's frustration with his activist investors, expressed before the Dutch commercial court, which had convened to hear arguments in favour of halting ABN's proposed sale of its US banking operations, La Salle, to Bank of America.

But activist shareholders are just one of the group of children at play in the fight for control of ABN.

At a European Parliamentary hearing on cross-border consolidation in January last year, Charlie McCreevy, the EU Internal Market Commissioner, spoke of his concern with regard to EU financial market competitiveness and his determination to remove obstacles to cross-border banking mergers. In March, the European Central Bank published a...