Magazine article American Banker

ABN Amro Unit Challenging First Chicago on Two Fronts

Magazine article American Banker

ABN Amro Unit Challenging First Chicago on Two Fronts

Article excerpt

###BRETT CHASE

Officials at ABN Amro North America Inc. say they have an aggressive strategy to overtake First Chicago NBD Corp. as the No. 1 retail bank here while cutting into that company's one-third share of middle market lending.

The $50 billion-asset unit of the Dutch banking giant ABN Amro Holding used to say it would acquire only in markets visible from the top of the Sears Tower. Now, executives say it's necessary to cross into other states to compete with goliaths such as $122 billion-asset First Chicago NBD.

"We think we have a shot," said Scott Heitmann, president and chief executive of the community bank group at LaSalle National Corp., ABN Amro's Chicago banking subsidiary. "It's an ambitious two-pronged strategy."

ABN Amro is a distant second in retail market share here, capturing 5.7% of the primary banking relationships to First Chicago NBD's 20%, according to the market audit firm Claritas Inc. (The relationships include traditional banking products, such as checking and savings accounts.)

While there's room to grow in retail, ABN Amro officials concede middle market lending will be a harder business to dominate, as First Chicago NBD controls 33% of that market here. ABN Amro says it is third with 19%.

"Let's put it this way," Mr. Heitmann said. "It's an ambitious size and market share" LaSalle must attain to surpass its rival.

But it has the backing of its $340 billion-asset parent, which has the most U.S. assets of any foreign bank except Mitsubishi Bank and Bank of Tokyo, which are merging. …

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