On 9 October 2007, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) celebrated its leading role in the biggest deal in banking history, a record 71 billion euros for Dutch bank ABN Amro. Searching for an immediate profit, the victors dismantled ABN Amro – and Holland’s number one bank ceased to exist. Shareholders and management enjoyed the spoils and the Netherlands lost the bank that had been at the heart of their economy for 183 years. But the profits were an illusion – they simply weren’t there. One year later, RBS had been forced into the largest rights issue in British corporate history, underwritten by the Government.
So why was ABN Amro so toxic? On the basis of more than 120 conversations with the most important individuals involved, Jeroen Smit reconstructs the downfall of a Dutch institution – a bank whose rotten core was so disguised by paper profits of billions every year. In little more than a decade, one of Europe’s largest, longest established banks went from powerful predator to the perfect prey.