ABN Amro North America Inc., the parent company of LaSalle Bank in Chicago and Standard Federal Bank in Troy, Mich., is building a Chicago technology center in a move to consolidate operations.

The company said Monday that it has committed $500 million to the construction of ABN Amro Plaza in the city’s downtown. Executives said this would reduce operating costs by bringing the company’s five Chicago bank locations under one roof.

Robert Mau, a spokesman for ABN Amro North America, would not quantify the amount of the savings except to say, “We will realize a large cost savings in the future.”

Building the new facility is not an attempt to boost presence in the Chicago market, he said. “Our profile is what it is. This is solely a consolidation based on economics. It is a commitment to Chicago.”

Harrison F. Tempest, chairman and chief executive officer, said the building would “unify operations and enable us to reach our full potential as an organization.” By consolidating resources and “focusing energies on a common goal, ABN Amro North America will maintain and add to its current successes.”

The company is also using the move to upgrade its support technology in an age when e-commerce is making a big impact on banking, officials said.

“We must ensure that our facilities can support the technology needed to provide outstanding levels of service to our customers,” said Norman R. Bobins, president and CEO of LaSalle Bank.

ABN Amro North America has 18,000 employees. In November its parent company, $511 billion-asset ABN Amro Holding NV, announced plans to acquire Michigan National Corp. for $2.75 billion in cash. That deal is scheduled to close in the second quarter.

The Amsterdam-based banking giant, which also has substantial holdings in European American Bank in New York, has pledged to make more acquisitions in the Midwest and on the East Coast as well as in Brazil and the Netherlands. It has said it wants to expand both consumer and commercial banking operations.

In May it announced a reorganization to help align products and services into three units — wholesale, retail, and asset management. Before the Michigan National deal was announced, the company again announced it would restructure by regrouping its businesses into three units — consumer and commercial, wholesale, and private clients and asset management.

ABN Amro Plaza is scheduled for completion in 2003. Construction is to begin this year.

The 1.3 million-square-foot office complex is expected to accommodate several thousand employees. The company’s U.S. headquarters will remain on LaSalle Street in Chicago. Mr. Mau said ABN Amro is still considering what units into move to the new facility.


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