US debt: ABN Amro keeps its bond spin-off in the family
ABN Amro is handing down its underperforming US high-grade business to wholly owned
Late last year, one of ABN Amro's senior North American managers likened the bank's involvement in the investment-grade US credit markets to "a kind of store-front on Madison Avenue".
Competing with the most fashionable US high-grade bond underwriting houses, however, appears to have become too extravagant a pastime for the Dutch bank.
In June ABN ceded control of its entire US domestic debt capital markets underwriting business to its wholly owned but fiercely autonomous midwest bank, LaSalle.
The move comes as no surprise, considering ABN is sixteenth in the high-grade corporate bond underwriting league tables with a 0.9% market share, excluding self-led deals and anything 18 months or shorter. That's in spite of a build-up in the US bond business by the Dutch bank less than two years ago, when it publicly vowed to be eighth by the end of 2004.
It will be handing over a freshly gutted business to LaSalle. In June ABN sacked all but one of its high-grade bond traders in New York, shut down its research group, lost a top syndicate director and shaved about 500 borrowers off its DCM coverage list in preparation for the cast-off.