Deutsche to snap up ABNAmro assets

City A.M. Reporter
DEUTSCHE Bank agreed in principle to buy some ABN AMRO assets from the Dutch state in a deal which should clear the way for a merger of nationalised banks ABN and Fortis Bank Nederland. <br /><br />Under the deal, the acquisitive German lender will boost its Dutch operations by acquiring commercial bank HBU, 13 advisory branches, two corporate client units and a factoring business.<br /><br />The pact, which is not final and depends on negotiations and a host of regulatory approvals, is the same in terms of assets as the deal Deutsche, Germany&rsquo;s biggest bank, agreed with former ABN owner Fortis in July 2008.<br /><br />The European Commission mandated the sale of those assets in late 2007 to preserve competition in the Dutch market after a consortium took over ABN AMRO that year.<br /><br />The financial terms of the proposed deal were not disclosed.<br /><br />The Dutch government said yesterday it will seek an extension of the EU deadline to finalise the agreement. <br /><br />The merger of ABN and Fortis, followed by an eventual initial public offering to markets, is core to the Dutch state&rsquo;s exit strategy for the banks, which it nationalised in October 2008 for &euro;16.8bn (&pound;15.2bn).<br /><br />Chief executive at the bank Josef Ackermann has recently urged his board to look for targets but cautioned them to be selective.<br /><br />&ldquo;Don&rsquo;t buy distressed assets, buy from distressed investors,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />The Dutch acquisitions by Deutsche will make it the fourth-largest provider of corporate and investment banking services in the country, the bank said.<br /><br />Konrad Becker, a banking analyst with Merck Finck said Deutsche&rsquo;s targeting of Dutch assets appeared opportunistic rather than signalling a shift in strategy.