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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

ABN Takeover Clears a Final Hurdle

ReutersFrom left, Lippens, Votron and Goodwin talking after Royal Bank of Scotland shareholders met in Edinburgh on Friday.
EDINBURGH, Scotland -- Royal Bank of Scotland shareholders overwhelmingly approved the proposed 71 billion euro ($97.2 billion) takeover of ABN Amro on Friday, the third and final leg of backing from investors in the RBS-led consortium.

The deal was approved against a backdrop of steep falls in the share price of banks around the world as worries about exposure to U.S. subprime housing market troubles and a turbulent credit market deepened.

Fortis, the Belgian-Dutch member of the consortium, dismissed speculation the turbulence would make it difficult to finance its part of the deal, however. The talk had helped knock ABN's shares more than 10 percent lower at one point.

"We are very comfortable about our financing. We have always been comfortable about the financing, and there's no reason why we should not be today," Fortis chief executive Jean-Paul Votron said at a news conference after the vote.

"We are used to rumors about Fortis in all kinds of categories, so I would add this into the category of new rumor," he said. "The markets are a little shaky and a little volatile."

The offer from the consortium, which also includes Spain's Santander, is mostly in shares and is currently worth about 8 billion euros more than a rival, mostly shares offer by Britain's Barclays.

Either deal would be the biggest bank takeover.

RBS said it was confident ABN did not have any major exposure to the current credit market or subprime problems. "We believe ABN is a very responsibly run bank and we have no reason to believe they have any undue exposure," RBS chairman Tom McKillop said in answer to a shareholder question about whether ABN was exposed to troubled parts of the credit market.

RBS chief executive Fred Goodwin also downplayed the impact of the market turbulence on the offer.

"The market can move very quickly in either direction, so we'll pay careful attention as we move forward but we're happy with where we are today with our offer," Goodwin said.