ABN Amro Holding plans to buy Banco Real, Brazil's fourth-biggest, the Dutch banking company said Wednesday.

The purchase, estimated at $3 billion, is the latest and biggest in a series of acquisitions of Latin American banks by foreign institutions, including HSBC Holdings' recent acquisition of Banco Bamerindus do Brasil SA for $1.4 billion.

ABN Amro said it has agreed to make a cash payment of $2.1 billion to the controlling shareholder for 40% of the voting rights, and to buy the rest of the shares over the next few years.

At yearend 1997, Banco Real had about $15 billion of assets, nearly 1,400 branches, some 2.2 million retail clients, more than 100,000 corporate customers, and nearly 15,000 employees in Brazil. The transaction would raise ABN Amro's assets in Brazil to $19.3 billion.

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