Bloomberg News

ABN Amro May Cut 15% of Clearing Unit Jobs in Reorganization

February 21, 2012

(Updates with spokesman comment in second paragraph.)

Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- ABN Amro Group NV, the Dutch lender nationalized in 2008, said it may cut about 15 percent of jobs at the firm’s clearing unit amid an overhaul.

“About 60 full time jobs out of 395 are in scope in this reorganization,” said Jeroen van Maarschalkerweerd, a spokesman for the Amsterdam-based bank. The cuts are a part of the integration of former Fortis and ABN units following their takeover by the Dutch state and also fit in with a group-wide program to increase efficiency, he said.

ABN Amro Clearing, a unit of ABN Amro Group with its own banking license in the Netherlands, plans to reduce its custody and brokerage activities as it focuses on the clearing business, Van Maarschalkerweerd said. Custody and brokerage activities for retail clients will be moved to ABN Amro Bank in Breda, the Netherlands, he said.

ABN Amro Clearing, which ranks itself among the world’s three-biggest clearing operations, has lost business to BNP Paribas Fortis, formerly known as Fortis Bank Belgium, resumed its own activities.

“We’ll aim to move the workers it concerns to other jobs,” Van Maarschalkerweerd said. Still, “forced redundancies unfortunately cannot be excluded,” he said, adding that the functions affected are mainly in operations, business development and business support and administration.

Bailout

The Netherlands bought Fortis’s Dutch banking and insurance units and its stake in ABN Amro Holding NV in 2008 after the company ran out of short-term funding. Following the 30 billion- euro ($39 billion) bailout, Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager indicated he plans to sell ABN Amro shares as early as 2014, preferably through a stock-exchange listing.

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, Spain’s Banco Santander SA and Fortis bought ABN Amro in 2007 for about 72 billion euros in the world’s biggest banking takeover. In addition to the downfall of Fortis, RBS needed a 45.5 billion-pound ($71.3 billion) taxpayer rescue as the acquisition saddled it with bad debt and depleted its cash reserves.

The firm in August said it plans to trim 2,350 jobs in the next four years, partly offset by the creation of 450 new positions. The reductions follow an earlier program of 6,000 cuts aimed at eliminating overlaps between the former Fortis and ABN. The potential job losses at ABN Amro Clearing are separate from the 2,350, Van Maarschalkerweerd said.

ABN Amro Chairman Gerrit Zalm in August stepped up the lender’s cost-control targets as the first phase of integration nears its end by 2012. The lender aims for a cost-to-income ratio, or costs as a proportion of revenue, of below 60 percent by 2014. That compares with 63 percent in the first nine months of 2011.

ABN’s overall workforce fell to 24,947 at the end of September from 30,200 in 2009.

--With assistance from Jurjen van de Pol in Amsterdam. Editors: Stephen Taylor, Keith Campbell

To contact the reporter on this story: Maud van Gaal in Amsterdam at mvangaal@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net


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