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23.03.2007 Business & Finance

Barclays To Create 5th Biggest Bank

A Blockbuster bid by British bank Barclays to merge with Dutch group, ABN Amro would create the world's fifth biggest bank, an analyst has said.

Prospects of a bid pushed up the value of shares in both banks which revealed late on Monday that they were in "exclusive" talks over a possible merger that would create a group capitalised at more than $160-billion ($120-billion).

Barclays is a leading British bank with interests also in Europe, Asia, the United States, the Middle East and Africa.

ABN Amro has also expanded into emerging markets in Asia and has interests in the United States, Canada and Mexico. It has 4,500 branches in 53 countries.

The combined enterprise would have 47 million clients and would employ 220,000 people in 50 countries.

"Barclays PLC confirms that it is in exclusive preliminary discussions with ABN Amro Holding NV concerning a potential combination of the two organisations which will create value for both sets of shareholders," Barclays said in a statement overnight.

Both banks had said in near-identical statements that the "discussions are the result of careful consideration to create a highly complementary partnership."

Both said: "The talks are at an early and exploratory stage and there can be no certainty that they will lead to a transaction."

A takeover by Barclays of ABN Amro would create the world's fifth-biggest behind Citigroup, Bank of America, both of the United States, China's ICBC and British rival HSBC.

Source — AFP