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Barclays gets OK to delay ABN bid

LONDON -- Barclays PLC, which is competing with Royal Bank of Scotland PLC to buy ABN Amro Holding NV in the largest takeover fight in financial industry history, said yesterday it received approval from Dutch regulators to delay its proposed takeover.

Barclays made an offer to buy ABN Amro in April through an all-stock transaction that currently values the business at $79.9 billion, or $45.47 a share. Its bid is dependent on the $21 billion sale of ABN's Chicago-based LaSalle Bank to Bank of America going through.

A group led by Royal Bank of Scotland PLC has made a rival bid of $95.5 billion. The Royal wants LaSalle, and its offer is dependent on that sale being blocked -- though it could rebid at a lower level if it loses LaSalle.

Amsterdam's Superior Court has blocked the LaSalle sale, bringing the takeover fight to a standstill until the Netherlands Supreme Court finishes reviewing that ruling, which is expected by mid-July.

Barclays was due to launch its formal bid by July 5, but said yesterday that since the regulatory vetting of the bid is not yet completed, Dutch financial authorities have allowed an extension and a disclosure of the formal offer documentation would be made by July 23.

"Good progress continues to be made in relation to the preconditions, documentation, and regulatory change of control approvals," Barclays said.

ABN Amro shares fell 0.03 percent to $46.11 on Euronext -- still above Barclays' offer, suggesting investors remain uncertain which bidder will prevail. Barclays shares fell 0.57 percent to $13.90 on the London Stock Exchange.