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AMSTERDAM-The long-running battle to buy ABN Amro Holding NV appears to have drawn to a close as Barclays Group PLC backed out of the bidding war. The exit leaves the approximately $101-billion bid by a three-member consortium led by London-based Royal Bank of Scotland PLC on the table, subject to a vote by ABN Amro shareholders.

According to published reports during the weekend, investors representing 85% of ABN Amro shares had voted to accept the deal, and the three-party consortium will announce the outcome this week. The trio also includes Belgium-based Fortis NV and Spain’s Banco Santadar Central Hispano SA.

In the end, the buyers are paying more for less. Under terms of the initial $91-billion bid by London-based Barclays this April, ABN Amro agreed to sell its Chicago-based LaSalle Bank to Bank of America Corp. for $21 billion. Analysts saw the sale as a move to block a rival bid.

When later in April the RBS-led consortium upped the ante by 13% with the introduction of its $98.5-billion bid, it was conditioned on LaSalle remaining with ABN Amro. However, Charlotte, NC-based BofA issued a statement saying it had a legal contract to acquire LaSalle and expected that contract “to be fulfilled.” On Oct. 1, it was, and the sale to BofA closed.

Following a July attempt to raise its bid that fell through, on Oct. 4 Barclays withdrew its offer. Under its initial and subsequently amended merger agreements, ABN Amro will pay Barclays a break fee of Euro 200 million, or $238 million USD.

The RBS-led buyout is expected to close Oct. 19. The trio is expected to split the ABN Amro spoils. Santadar will take ABN’s Brazilian subsidiary, making Santadar one of the largest banks in Brazil and also adding clients in Italy. Fortis will add clients in Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands, making it the largest bank in those countries. RBS takes the remainder, but without the US LaSalle banking operation.

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