How Botín got what he wanted out of ABN
In 2004 Santander had looked at ABN Amro as an entire business but decided it was not interested in a deal. Botín told his board at the time that the only parts of ABN that Santander might be interested in were its Brazil and Italy operations.
Botín: "The deal could not have happened without Fred’s [Goodwin] strong leadership"
Then, in January 2007, Fred Goodwin, the chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, approached Santander and told Botín that he was looking to make a bid for ABN.
Goodwin asked Botín if he would be interested. Botín stuck to his guns: yes, he said – but only in Brazil and Italy. In that discussion, Botín – who had already consulted key in-house dealmaker Juan Rodríguez Inciarte about the offer – told Goodwin the price he would be prepared to pay for the banking operations of ABN in those two countries. He said it would be in the region of €17 billion.
In subsequent discussions, Goodwin, Botín and their advisers at Merrill Lynch discussed what to do with the Benelux operations of ABN. They both agreed that the businesses would be a difficult fit for their respective banks. So they approached Jean-Paul Votron, the recently ousted chief executive of Fortis. The Dutch/Belgian bank had already been approached by another investment bank with the idea of making an offer for ABN’s Benelux bank.