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ABN, Barclays Extend Talks

They give themselves a few more days to complete merger dealings.


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extended the period in which they can hold exclusive merger talks.

The two companies said jointly on Tuesday that the period has been lengthened to Friday from Wednesday.

The U.K. and Dutch banks said the discussions "are progressing, but there can be no certainty that they will lead to a transaction or the form it will take."

News comes as ABN Amro also agrees to meet with Royal Bank of Scotland, Spain's Banco Santander and Fortis to discuss its fate. Last week ABN Amro received a letter from the consortium in which they invited the Dutch bank to begin their own "exploratory" talks.

ABN Amro said Tuesday that it has "agreed to the request for a meeting" and "invited all signatories to a meeting in Amsterdam early next week to seek clarification of their intentions and interests."

Any combination with ABN Amro would likely cost the acquirers more than $80 billion.

ABN Amro is being pressured by hedge fund the Children's Investment Fund to boost its shares and return on capital through the sale of some units or to find a merger partner. Barclays and ABN Amro confirmed a month ago that they were in discussions regarding a tie-up between the two companies.

A spokesman for ABN Amro declined to comment further about the talks with Barclays. A spokesman for Barclays was not immediately available for comment.