AMSTERDAM ABN Amro and its largest shareholder, the Dutch state, are not looking for a buyer and were deeply surprised by an approach by Sweden's Nordea about a merger, an ABN Amro official said on Friday.
Nordea held exploratory talks about a merger as recently as September with Netherlands Financial Investments (NLFI), the Dutch government agency that holds a majority of ABN Amro shares, but the approach was rebuffed, the official said.
"ABN is not in play. We were baffled by the approach by Nordea and referred it to our largest shareholder, the (NLFI), who rejected it. End of story," said the ABN Amro official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Dutch state floated a 23 percent stake in ABN in November 2015, privatizing the bank seven years after it was nationalised following a 24-billion-euro bailout.
"The political focus is taking the bank back to the stock market, not doing a deal. It might have been different if they had come along with a lot of cash, but that wasn’t the case. They would just end up with a lot of shares in an even larger bank,” the official said.
Another official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "Talks were held and NLFI recommended to the government that the offer be turned down. There are currently no talks ongoing."
ABN Amro shares rose as much as 2 percent to a near six-month high in morning trade on Friday.
The Dutch government and NLFI, which holds the shares on behalf of the Finance Ministry, declined to comment.
(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Adrian Croft)