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ABN Amro sees H1 operating profit up 27%

Dutch banking group ABN Amro pointed to the impact of its purchase of Italy's Banca Antonveneta as it recorded operating profits of E3.5 billion in H1 2006, up from E2.8 billion a year ago.

However, despite the strong growth in profits, the bank wants to maintain a firm grip on costs.

Despite the fact that we are on track with regard to our cost savings programs, the improvement of the efficiency ratio remains an absolute priority. We have therefore developed a number of additional cost initiatives for the second half of 2006, the bank said.

The integration of Banca Antonveneta is well on track, with forecast synergies of E160 million by the end of 2007.

ABN Amro has also announced that it intends acquire the remaining 3.4 million shares it did not own in Banca Antonveneta following the expiration of its tender offer on March 31.

The bank also intends to sell its asset management unit Bouwfonds to Rabobank for E845 million.