RBS puts ABN Amro on the spot

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Royal Bank of Scotland has really put ABN Amro on the spot by detailing a higher proposed bid than Barclays. RBS chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin usually seems so cool but the first paragraph of the bank’s statement really betrays its fury at ABN’s behaviour so far. Anyway, RBS says it would offer €72bn. Amazingly, about €50bn of it would be in cash. Peter Thal Larsen, our banking editor, says the proposal raises a number of questions, not least where this much cash is going to come from and what mechanism would most efficiently unwind ABN’s sale of its US bank to Bank of America, a condition of the RBS bid. But ABN will have its work cut out at its annual meeting tomorrow if it is to explain why shareholders should support a lower offer from Barclays instead of taking RBS seriously.

The other fascinating story today, as we reported in this morning’s market report, is the purchase of 14 per cent of J Sainsbury by, we think, the Qatari royal family’s Three Delta fund. Paul Taylor, who runs Three Delta put the phone down on us last night. But we know quite a lot about these guys and will tell you more tomorrow. Taylor is an old associate of Robert Tchenguiz, who just happens to have 5 per cent of Sainsbury.

Autonomy founder Mike Lynch says the group has received takeover approaches but has decided to spin off its consumer division, which allows people to search internet TV and video clips, on Aim. The shares are up almost 6 per cent.

Wolfson Microelectronics, the Edinburgh-based semiconductor company, reported a nearly 60 per cent fall in first quarter pre-tax profits, following disappointing sales of the portable music players and high-end phones that use its audio chips. However, the new chief executive, Dave Shriggley, says things are looking up.

Results and updates today include: strong Q1s from Aggreko, GlaxoSmithKline Q1s hit by strong pound and the loss of some patent protections, strong Q1s from Shire, and solid but dull Q1 update from Reuters.

Rumour of the day: FT Alphaville says Debenhams shares are up on rumours, which we don’t believe, that Sir Philip Green may have go at a bid.

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