The RBS-led consortium has upped its bid. Barclays may yet come back with a higher bid of its own and, ominously, more 'cost savings'.
While the rest of the City has been going about its business in near-perpetual rain, ABN AMRO's bankers have been labouring under a cloud of an even darker variety - the prospect of being snapped up and spat out by either Barclays or a consortium led by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).
Today their fate came one step nearer with the news that the RBS clique has upped the cash value of its bid from 79% to 93%, despite being denied the right to purchase LaSalle, ABN's tasty Chicago-based US unit. Barclays is expected to follow with a higher bid of its own.
Will a higher bid from Barclays mean more job losses? According to 'analysts' quoted in the Telegraph, Barclays will need to justify paying more by making bigger savings. The bank has already promised to lop 12,800 people and shift another 10,800 to lower-cost countries.
Stay calm, false alarm
"Don't worry," is the overwhelming message from analysts we asked, however. "For Barclays to buy ABN's wholesale business and then shut large amounts of it down to save costs negates the idea of doing the deal in the first place," says one. "If Barclays want to pay more, yes they will have to show the numbers add up for their shareholders, but in capital markets people are supposed to come with revenues - if you cut too hard the risk is you'll be axing revenues too."
Mark Thomas, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, says Barclays may in fact make the necessary cost savings with a little accounting sleight of hand: "So far, Barclays have included the costs of getting revenue synergies with ABN as negative costs - but these are normally recorded as negative revenues.
"Presentationally, all they'll need to do to increase cost savings is to reclassify this," he adds. "There won't need to be any change in the number of jobs." Perhaps the sun will come out as well.