5,000 jobs to go in ABN Amro, Fortis merger

THE HAGUE: Dutch lender ABN Amro said Tuesday that up to 5,000 jobs would be cut in its merger with the Netherlands banking branch of Fortis after the two were nationalised last year.

"The number of posts will decrease by between 4,000 and 5,000 by 2012," ABN Amro spokesman Jeroen van Maarschalkerweerd told AFP. The cuts were aimed at making savings worth between one and 1.3 billion euros (1.8 billion dollars).

ABN Amro and Fortis's Dutch banking operations together employ 30,000 people, most of them in the Netherlands, and have combined sales of 8.0 billion euros, according to the Dutch government.

Van Maarschalkerweerd said the merger would see the elimination overall of between 5,500 and 6,500 full-time jobs but would also lead to the creation of 1,500 posts.

Fortis, a Belgian-Dutch venture hard hit by the financial crisis, was broken up last year when most of its Dutch operations were nationalised, as was ABN Amro.

The merger, which now needs the approval of the European Union's executive commission and the Dutch central bank, is to be headed by former Dutch finance minister Gerrit Zalm, who is now executive director at ABN Amro.

Fortis's insurance operations in the Netherlands, which were also nationalised in October, are managed by a separate company, ASR Verzekeringen.

The sale by the Belgian state of 75 percent of Fortis's Belgian banking operations to French bank BNP Paribas was completed on May 12 following shareholder approval and a green light from the European Commission.