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IT staff set for chop in Barclays-ABN Amro merger

'Synergies' mean job cuts in double dutch

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The proposed £45.6bn merger of Barclays and ABN Amro banks will result in at least 23,000 job cuts, with the IT departments looking most vulnerable.

IT union Amicus was reassured by the firms that the job cuts would not likely be compulsory. They were expected to come from natural attrition, which at about 10 per cent equated roughly with the number of proposed cuts over three years. Ten thousand new jobs are expected to be created over the same period.

The combined Anglo-Dutch bank will be based from Amsterdam, which will mean the closure of the UK as a world-wide headquarters.

Keith Brookes, Amicus National Official, said: "It's not going to be slash and burn as far as I can see," but he conceded that it was expected that certain functions would be moved to lower-cost, overseas locations.

"Key areas of concern for me are the London head office, and I'm anxious to find out what the plans are for IT because there's bound to be plans for that," he said, adding that he was also concerned about call-centres being offshored.

Rijkman Groenink, chairman of the managing board of ABN Amro, said at a press conference: "If you look at the plans and the integration of the various departments, we do not expect out of that 23,000 that a significant part will come from the Netherlands," but would give no further detail.

There are thought to be abour 6,000 IT and related support staff at Barclays and eight to twelve major call centres. Roughly 1,500 IT jobs had already been outsourced to Accenture, while 500 had already gone to Xansa.

John Varley, chief executive of Barclays Group, told the conference: "The career opportunities in ABN Amro and Barclays will be second to none...we will be magnet for talent...that's really the employment story for today."

On the "philosophy" of the merger, Varley said: "What we want we want to say to our shareholders is that the efficiency ratios business area by business area compare with the best in the world"

The merger was expected to save the pair £3.5bn over the three years of removing duplicated departments and offshoring. The group will serve 47 million customers in Europe, North and South America, Asia, Middle East and Africa.

ABN Amro, meanwhile, has agreed the sale of LaSalle Bank Corporation to Bank of America Corp for $21bn. €12bn from the sale will be given to shareholders.®

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