The Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisitions of certain assets of the Dutch banking group ABN AMRO by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) of the UK and Santander of Spain. It concluded that both operations would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or any substantial part of it.

A consortium formed by RBS, Fortis and Santander announced the bid for ABN AMRO's entire share capital on 29 May 2007. If the bid is successful, it will lead to the break-up of ABN AMRO assets among the three banks. The overall consortium's operation is considered to give rise to three different concentrations. Today's decisions only refer to the mergers that would result from the acquisitions by RBS and Santander of certain ABN AMRO assets. Fortis' proposed acquisition of the remaining ABN assets is currently being reviewed by the Commission and the Commission is due to take a decision on this by 3 October 2007.

RBS is the holding company of one of the world's largest banking and financial services groups, listed on the London Stock Exchange and headquartered in Edinburgh. RBS operates through two principal subsidiaries, the Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest.

Santander is an international credit institution with presence in three main areas - Continental Europe, the UK and Latin America. Its activities focus on retail banking, global wholesale banking, asset management and insurance. Santander is also active in investment banking.

ABN AMRO is an international banking group active worldwide in four principal customer segments: personal banking, private banking, business and commercial clients and corporate and institutional clients. In the EEA, ABN AMRO is predominantly active in The Netherlands.

Pursuant to the terms of the proposed bid, RBS will acquire inter alia ABN AMRO's Business Unit North America; Business Unit Global Clients and wholesale clients in The Netherlands (including former Dutch wholesale clients) and in Latin America (excluding Brazil); Business Unit Asia; Business Unit Europe (excluding Antonveneta). The Commission's examination of the merger showed that there were only limited horizontal overlaps between RBS and ABN AMRO in the EEA and that, for all the financial services concerned, the combined entity would still face sufficient competition from a number of operators.

Santander will acquire inter alia ABN AMRO's Business Unit Latin America (excluding wholesale banking outside Brazil and asset management) and the Italian bank Antonveneta. Santander's acquisition of ABN AMRO's assets has been treated under the simplified procedure since the merger did not give rise to any affected markets within the EEA. [19 September 07]