More than a year after striking a deal to buy a Chicago-based investment banking and brokerage firm, ABN Amro North America jumped its last regulatory hurdle this week.
With approval from the Federal Reserve Board granted Wednesday, ABN Amro is expecting a Jan. 1 close for its acquisition of Chicorp Inc., parent of Chicago Corp.
Chicago Corp. has 1,100 employees, $100 million in capital, and $700 million in assets.
"This really is the infrastructure in which we build our investment banking business in the U.S.," said Harrison F. Tempest, ABN Amro North America's chief executive. "Restrictions have been relaxed to the point we can do most everything" nonbank owned securities firm can do.
ABN Amro North America, the U.S. affiliate of Netherlands-based ABN Amro NV, is aggressively pursuing acquisitions to expand in the United States.
ABN Amro has a substantial banking presence in the U.S. with the retail- oriented LaSalle National Corp. in Chicago, and European American Bank, a wholesale lender, in New York. It also recently agreed to buy Troy, Mich.- based Standard Federal Bancorp, a $15 billion-asset thrift.
The Dutch company announced last year that it had agreed to buy Chicorp in a deal valued between $120 million and $200 million. ABN Amro already has an investment banking unit based in Chicago, ABN Amro Securities USA Inc., which will be folded into Chicorp. The Chicorp deal will expand the unit's presence and add to its global investment banking business.
The Netherlands parent company also has investment banking operations around the world.
ABN Amro anticipated the deal would be closed by the second quarter of 1996, but regulatory approval took longer than company officials anticipated.
ABN Amro joins a number of banks that have entered the securities business in the U.S. The Federal Reserve has granted investment banking powers to about 40 banks. One-third of those banks are subsidiaries of foreign companies.
Ronald Glancz, a lawyer with Venable, Baetjer, Howard & Civiletti in Washington, said foreign banks don't want to be left behind their U.S. counterparts as the industry anticipates liberalized laws pertaining to ownership of banks and securities firms.
"U.S. banks have positioned themselves very well," said Mr. Glancz. "So, when the barriers fall, they'll be able to take full advantage. Foreign banks are certainly looking to expand in the U.S. market in a big way."
John A. Wing, chairman and chief executive of Chicorp, said the ABN Amro acquisition will mean a $250 million capital infusion for his company.
Other than a name change - Chicorp's new moniker will be ABN Amro Chicago Corp., assuming the deal closes - there would be minimal effect on the management and operations of the Chicago firm, Mr. Wing added.