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Citi Advising Barclays

The move seems to preclude a rival bid for huge ABN.


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has hired


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to advise on merger talks with

ABN Amro



Citi is likely to earn a generous fee. But more important, the hiring seems to take the bank out of the running for ABN. Reports had surfaced that several Citi executives were trying to convince CEO Chuck Prince to bid for ABN Amro.

A Citi spokeswoman confirmed that the bank has been hired by Barclays, but declined to discuss the deal further. Barclays declined to comment.

Deutsche Bank

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and JPMorgan Cazenove, a joint venture between

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JPMorgan Chase

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and U.K. investment bank Cazenove, are also advising on the deal.

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.

While Barclays' president, Bob Diamond, recently said that the bank was in a "strong position" for a merger to take place, ABN Amro says it is not certain that the discussions will lead to a merger.

ABN Amro said in a letter to shareholders announcing its annual meeting on April 26 that if talks fell through, the company will examine "other sustainable alternatives including our standalone business case."

Analysts have also pegged Spanish banks






, along with Royal Bank of Scotland, as possible suitors to purchase ABN Amro.

Shares of Citi fell 3 cents to $51.03. Barclays fell 65 cents to $56.74, while ABN Amro fell 56 cents to $42.70.