A setback for Bar Cap?

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Should Bar Cap bankers really be celebrating the bank's failure to tie the knot with ABN?

While chief exec John Varley may be disappointed at Barclays' failure to woo ABN AMRO, others at Barclays Capital are said to be more jubilant than not now that they don't have to climb into bed with the Dutch heavyweight. "Most people are pretty relieved at not having to integrate what is a fairly basic platform," says one fixed income headhunter. "Right now they're a lot more concerned about their sub-prime and leveraged loan exposures than losing ABN."

Banking analysts say there's a definite logic to the temptation to breathe easy: "You could see from the various synergy estimates that there were going to be redundancies," says one. "Barclays Capital employees are no worse off for this not occurring."

But given the potential gains from the ABN link-up, any backslapping may be a little shortsighted: "ABN would have brought strong trade finance and cash management capabilities, particularly in Asia," says the analyst.

Alex Potter, equity analyst at Collins Stewart, says acquiring ABN would have propelled Barclays Capital into a leading position globally for debt issuance, and given it leverage in the key Asian markets: "Bar Cap will be weaker than it would have been with the ABN business, which would have brought a good corporate footprint in Asia."

With Asia set to drive banking growth, will Bar Cap come to rue the day it lost the Dutch maiden to the Scotch ménage à trois? Let us know what you think...

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