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ABN Amro, Royal Bank of Scotland to merge

March 14, 2008 12:30 IST

Meera Sanyal, Country Executive, ABN Amro Bank, said these are interesting times to take over the reins, especially with ABN Amro's integration with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) underway.

Sanyal, who took over in December 2007, spends most of her time traveling to the bank branches across the country and interacting with employees.

"It's easy to send an e-mail to all employees and make important announcements, but I prefer a face-to-face interaction, which brings a sense of confidence, particularly at a time when integration of the two entities is underway," she said. Sanyal spoke to Anita Bhoir about the bank's plans and more. Excerpts:

The change of guard at ABN saw many top executives leaving the bank. Has there been an organisational restructuring?

It is true that we have lost some senior people. However, each of the individuals who left created a very strong talent pipeline. People leaving the bank created opportunities for others down the chain. Hence, it is business as usual and the succession has been very smooth.

Can you give us an overview of the ABN-RBS integration? What's been the progress so far?

These are interesting times for the bank. Both Fred Goodwin, Group Chief Executive, RBS, and Gordon Pell, Chairman (regional markets), RBS, have been in India.

They have spent a lot of time meeting people in the bank. Goodwin visited the bank's branches in major metros and met almost one-fourth of the ABN Amro staff in India. Such senior executives coming in and sharing their views gives a strong sense of confidence to the employees.

Integration is a complex process considering that there are several layers including clients and staff. Dutch Central Bank gave its approval on March 11. Country-by-country regulatory approvals will now be sought.

In India, ABN Amro Bank is in dialogue with the Reserve Bank of India. ABN Amro and RBS are also exploring ways of working together to approach various business opportunities.

As part of the global deal, Fortis was to acquire the private banking business of ABN Amro. Since Fortis does not have the required licence in India to retain the private banking business, Fortis and RBS reached an agreement that the ABN Amro private clients' businesses in India and Indonesia will become part of the RBS group. We are therefore very happy that we continued uninterrupted services to our private banking clients.

What does this merger mean for ABN Amro's banking business in India?

RBS will acquire the banking business in India and Fortis will buy the asset management company. Neither RBS nor Fortis has a presence in India. Hence, it is business as usual. We operate from 28 branches in 21 cities and will continue to grow the existing businesses.

On the wholesale banking side, we are one of the largest corporate banks in the world, post the merger, and these strengths will help us in India.

On the consumer banking front, we have been very successful in the wealth management space, credit cards and personal loans business. We are also very bullish on the microfinance business, where we finance over 7,00,000 women.

Anita Bhoir in Mumbai
Source: