It ups the ante to $98.5 billion USD, a 13% increase overBarclays' bid. The offer is from a consortium led by London-basedRoyal Bank of Scotland PLC, Barclay's chief rival, and alsoincludes Belgium-based Fortis NV and Spain's Banco SantanderCentral Hispano SA.

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It comes with conditions. The chief one is that Chicago-basedLaSalle Bank remain within ABN Amro. The Barclays' buyout proposalcalls for the sale of LaSalle to Bank of America for $21 million.On news of the consortium's counter offer, Charlotte, NC-based BofAissued a statement saying, "Bank of America has a legal contract toacquire ABN Amro North America Holding Company and expects thatcontract to be fulfilled under its current terms."

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The rival consortium also calls for additional due diligence"based on no more information than received by Barclays and Bank ofAmerica." In a joint statement, the new bidders say they "would beable to complete this due diligence in a very short period oftime." The London-based Children's Investment Fund, a hedge fundthat owns nearly 3% of ABN stock and initially urged the bank toconsider a sale or merger, has called the newest offer"compelling."

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ABN Amro confirms receipt of the new offer in a statement andsays, "we are open to discussing their proposals." A meeting,cancelled by the consortium for Monday, will now take placetoday.

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The consortium is offering $53.26 USD per share for ABN Amrostock, versus the Barclays' offer of approximately $49.14 USD pershare. The latter represented a premium of 33% over shares of ABNAmro stock on March 16, the day negotiations began between Barclaysand ABN.

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The consortium proposes to pay 70% in cash and 30% in RBSshares. Its joint statement says, "The banks already havesignificant presence and experience in all of ABN Amro's mainmarkets." They believe "the potential transaction will createstronger businesses with enhanced market positions and growthprospects in each of ABN Amro's main markets." Under the proposal,RBS would lead the resulting reorganization of ABN Amro.

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Several financial analysts have said the consortium's bid wouldlikely result in a breakup of ABN Amro. According to publishedreports, Rijkman Groenink, ABN's CEO, has previously stated hispreference for not breaking up the organization. GSR was unable toreach Barclays by deadline, and there is no response to the counteroffer on the London-based company's new website.

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