In terms of both geographical location and client portfolio, the business of Intertrust and MeesPierson complemented each other extremely well. They were incorporated into MeesPierson s fiduciary business under the name MeesPierson Intertrust, which after 2006 became Fortis Intertrust.
The takeover bid for ABN AMRO (2007-2008)
In 2007, ABN AMRO was the second largest bank in the Netherlands and the eighth largest in Europe by assets. The Banker magazine put it at number 15 globally. It operated in 63 countries and employed 110,000 people.
Early in 2007, the British bank Barclays announced that it was interested in a merger with ABN AMRO. Behind-doors discussions began between the two groups. This was the prelude to a financial soap opera which kept the general public spellbound for several months. Other banks were also interested in ABN AMRO. On 13 April 2007, a consortium comprising Fortis, Santander and the Royal Bank of Scotland announced that they wished to open negotiations prior to putting down a firm offer. ABN AMRO agreed to talks with the trio.
The consortium put in a bid on 29 May 2007. It offered to purchase ABN AMRO for 71.1 billion euros. This was the largest banking takeover bid that had ever been made. The Fortis Group stated that it alone was prepared to put 24 billion euros on the table, i.e. 33.8% of the total amount, in order to acquire the retail and commercial banking activities of ABN AMRO in the Netherlands, plus its international private banking and wealth management businesses.
According to Jean-Paul Votron, CEO of Fortis, the merger between Fortis and ABN AMRO would create a top-notch financial institution on the European scene. This is a unique opportunity, both for both Fortis and ABN AMRO staff. As a leader in the market in the Benelux countries, we would be able to create a robust, efficient platform which would serve our clients and support future growth both in our home markets and internationally. As regards the retail business in the Netherlands, taking over the ABN AMRO activities would serve to upscale the Bank considerably. It was estimated that the number of Fortis Bank Nederland employees would rise from 2,000 to 12,000 and the number of accounts from 2 to 8 million!
The offer from the bank consortium comprising the Royal Bank of Scotland, Banco Santander and the Fortis Group was accepted in October 2007. In April 2008, the Dutch central bank gave its endorsement to the plans for breaking up ABN AMRO. The integration work began immediately and it was clear that this would be a sizeable challenge as ABN AMRO was organised around geographical entities, while at Fortis Banque everything revolved around the business lines, which were responsible for generating profits. It was decided that the new Bank would be structured according to the Fortis Banque model.
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