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ABN AMRO Sale

Speculation mortgage unit on the block

November 10, 2006

By JERRY DeMUTH


Sources say ABN AMRO Holdings NV, the Dutch international banking firm, may be interested in selling its mortgage division and is accepting bids.

The reports of ABN AMRO's plans, said a top executive of one of the nation's major mortgage lenders, have been passed on to him from several of his industry associates. But no one was yet aware of any bids or other interest, he told MortgageDaily.com.

A spokesman for ABN AMRO in Chicago said, "It's a company policy not to comment on rumors or speculation."

ABN AMRO Mortgage Group Inc. is a subsidiary of Chicago-based LaSalle Bank Corp., which is the North American business operations of ABN AMRO Holding NV. The mortgage group includes ABN AMRO Mortgage, ABN AMRO Apartment Lending, InterFirst Wholesale Mortgage Lending, LaSalle Home Mortgage, LaSalle Bank Retail Mortgage Operations and Standard Federal Bank Retail Mortgage Operations.

Thomas M. Goldstein is chairman, president and chief executive officer of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based ABN AMRO Mortgage Group, a position to which he was named in February 2005 after serving almost a year as senior executive vice president of La Salle Bank, which he had joined in 1998 as a group senior vice president in the finance division.

An official at one capital markets firm which specializes in mergers and acquisitions of financial services institutions told MortgageDaily.com that he was surprised at the reports of the purported sale plans because of Goldstein's strong commitment to mortgage banking and was sure the development did not meet the ABN AMRO executive's approval. Goldstein, like others at LaSalle Bank and its mortgage subsidiary, declined to comment.

Speculation about ABN AMRO is emerging at a time when several mortgage banking operations have been closed down, sold to others, or put themselves up for sale amid declines in home sales and originations, including refinances, after several years of record lending activity.

ABN AMRO Mortgage Group, which reported $53.4 billion in 2005 production, is one of the largest loan originators and servicers in the United States, originating mortgage loans online, by phone and in person through its network of affiliated banks and other lending offices. It has nearly 3,000 employees across the country, according to a spokesman.


Jerry DeMuth is an award winning journalist who has been reporting for four decades.

e-mail Jerry at [email protected]
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