Barclays-ABN Amro merger: one in ten jobs to go

Barclays-ABN Amro merger: one in ten jobs to go

In announcing the terms of their proposed EUR67bn merger, Barclays and ABN Amro say they hope to achieve EUR3.5bn of cost savings and additional revenue by 2010, largely from axing or migrating 23,600 jobs. This amounts to just over 10% of the combined workforce.

Some 12,800 jobs will be trimmed from the combined work force of 217,000, and another 10,800 positions will migrate to cheaper offshore locations, the banks say.

ABN Amro has embraced strategic outsourcing and offshoring much more agressively than Barclays in recent years. It employs about 4000 back-office workers in six centres in Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi and it has outsourced much of its infrastructure and technology related processes.

One technology supplier to ABN Amro says that he expects Barclays will take advantage of the Dutch bank's more established offshore centres to help drive the cost savings and that the two banks' offshore application development operations will be consolidated.

"The picture is not yet clear as to what this merger would mean for existing outsourcing and IT contracts in place at the two banks," he says. "On the one hand this will make it much more difficult to hit any cost savings targets on the outsourcing contracts, but it will also present opportunities for all the banks' technology partners."

ABN Amro also announced today that its Chicago-based La Salle Bank would be sold to Bank of America for $21 billion. While it says this is not necessary for the Barclays deal to go ahead, some speculate that the cash from this deal would help kickstart the complex integration work required to merge the British and Dutch banks.

The Children's Investment Fund, a hedge fund that owns two per cent of the Dutch bank and has pushed for the bank's breakup to improve shareholder earnings, says it is studying the proposed deal. But voting on any merger proposals won't take place at ABN Amro's annual general meeting (AGM) this Thursday because the agenda for the meeting had to be fixed last month. Instead, any proposals will need to be voted on at an extraordinary general meeting.

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