Mumbai: The Dutch supreme court has reversed a May 3 lower court ruling that had blocked LaSalle's sale until shareholders of the bank's parent, ABN Amro Bank, could vote on the deal.
Bank of America Corp. can now proceed with its acquisition of Troy-based LaSalle Bank Midwest, a move that will give Michigan consumers and businesses access to a nationwide banking network and more products and services.
ABN Amro's $21 billion (£11.5 billion) sale of its LaSalle unit to Bank of America was lawful, the Dutch supreme court said.
Some shareholders had tried to stop the sale on the ground that ABN had not sought their approval first. The shareholders claimed that the LaSalle sale was intended to block an offer from a consortium led by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).
The decision means Bank of America will become the new owner of LaSalle, Michigan and metro Detroit's largest bank by deposits. The ruling is also good news for Barclays Bank, which made an offer for ABN dependent on LaSalle being sold.
The ownership change would enable LaSalle customers to use ATMs and branch offices across the country instead of only in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois .
With LaSalle, Bank of America instantly gains a leading position in Michigan, one of the few holes in its coast-to-coast network, at a crucial time. One of LaSalle's chief rivals, Detroit-based Comerica Inc., is moving its headquarters to Dallas, and other banks are trying to grab its customers.
LaSalle is part of a Chicago-based holding company called LaSalle Bank Corp., which includes LaSalle Bank of Chicago. In April, ABN agreed to sell the holding company for $21 billion to Bank of America.
LaSalle employs 4,400 workers in Michigan but recently eliminated 300 jobs to cut costs. It currently operates 255 branches in the state, with 181 of them in southeastern Michigan. Analysts, however, do not expect any layoffs or branch closings as a result of the sale.
In a statement, the Royal Bank of Scotland said it would study the ruling before considering its next move.
ABN has backed Barclays' 62.8 billion euro ($85.3 billion; £42.5 billion) offer. But Dutch group VEB, which represents small shareholders in ABN, argued LaSalle's planned sale to Bank of America effectively blocked a higher 71 billion-euro bid from RBS and its partners, Spain's Santander and Belgium's Fortis, as their offer hinges on LaSalle not being sold.
Analysts said this reflected the fact that although the judgment was positive for Barclays, it was by no means certain that it would prevail in the bid battle.