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The Perfect Prey: The fall of ABN Amro, or: what went wrong in the banking industry [Paperback]

Jeroen Smit
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 16.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

7 Jan 2010 1849162689 978-1849162685

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.

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The Perfect Prey: The fall of ABN Amro, or: what went wrong in the banking industry + Making it Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the Men Who Blew Up the British Economy
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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (7 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849162689
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849162685
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 15.2 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 267,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

In 2007 the Royal Bank of Scotland announced the biggest deal in banking history: a record 71 billion euros for the takeover of ABN Amro. For almost two centuries the bank had been at the heart of the Dutch nation's economy, but in one fell swoop it ceased to exist. The victors triumphantly dismantled the institution and sold off its various businesses. But the profits were an illusion - they simply weren't there. One year later RBS was forced to request the largest government bail-out in British history, and in the aftermath of this catastrophic failure the entire financial system teetered on the brink of collapse. The ill-fated takeover has come to symbolise the worst excesses that preceded the credit crunch. Jeroen Smit, one of Europe's top financial investigative journalists, has built on unprecedented access to more than 120 individuals connected to the deal to reconstruct just how things went so very badly wrong. He reveals the true story behind the financial collapse: how, in little more than a decade, one of the world's largest and oldest banks went from powerful predator to perfect prey.

About the Author

Jeroen Smit (1963) is a renowned Dutch investigative financial journalist: he was editor for Het Financieele Dagblad, head of economy for Algemeen Dagblad, and until 2002 editor-in-chief and publisher of the business weekly FEM Business. Nowadays he works as a freelancer, He is, among other things, the host of BNR Nieuwsradio and a commentator and columnist.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read 11 Aug 2009
Interesting read about the workings within a European board. It helps to have worked for the company to identify the persons referred to as one having not worked for ABN AMRO could get lost in the plethora of Dutch MDs mentioned.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The ABN Amro collapse 24 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The ultimate book on corporate mismanagement and disaster. Reads like a Ludlum (or even better than that). Comes highly recommended
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By Melvin
The Perfect Prey is a compelling read. It follows ABN AMRO at a board level during turbulent times of mergers, acquisitions and takeover bids which eventually led to the end of the bank as we know it. Smit chose to write from the perspective of Rijkman Groenink, the Board Director, and he uses a storyteller approach rather than a factual account of events. The feeling I got while reading this book is one of continued surprise. Surprise at the role that egos play at top level, surprise at the clumsiness with which scenarios are approached, surprise at the unprofessional arguments and fights at top level and surprise at the distance the supervisory board took along the way. Fascinating are the fights between retail bankers and investment bankers and their radical different views of where to take the bank. However it's difficult to say if Smit comes close to the truth or just scratches the surface. An interesting book but I slightly doubt it's historical relevance.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating behind the scene reconstruction that shaped the ABN AMRO's history 5 July 2009
By Antonius Gunadi - Published on
ABN AMRO has a special place in my heart. I am interested to anything related to it. When I found this book, it immediately got my attention.

Mr Jeroen Smit, the author of this book, is a well known journalist. His previous book, Het Drama Ahold, was well accepted by public.

In this book Mr Smit takes us to a series of behind the scenes reconstruction from the period of 1987 to 2007. This period covers the creation of ABN AMRO resulted from the merger of ABN and AMRO to its sad ending when RFS Holding acquired it.

I am amazed with the level of detail described by Mr Smit in this book. The way he presented the recollection of memories of these behind the scenes reconstructions makes the reader easy to follow the flow of the stories. It as if you were there and witnessing all of these scenes personally.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in ABN AMRO.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Move over, Smartest Guys in the Room 30 Dec 2009
By Patricia Welch - Published on
I worked for five years at ABN AMRO but left not long after the primary (albeit not sole) villain of the downfall of ABN AMRO took the helm. It was apparent to many of us then that all was not going to be right in the kingdom.

ABN AMRO may not have been a household name, but it was a good bank -- solid and honest. The bank many of us knew in the late 1990's and shortly thereafter was working hard to become a global bank, and its worldwide staff was proud of the gains being made. We were making Citibank and HSBC take notice of us. We were a player others were beginning to watch. All that changed.

All the conversations I've had with my former Bank colleagues end up with us shaking our heads, somewhat surprised I guess at the difference leadership really does make in an organisation. But to be fair, it wasn't just one man's leadership that fell short, but as this book clearly shows, the collective poor leadership of many who had been entrusted to protect ABN AMRO's heritage and lead it into a successful future--those whose role it was to protect its shareholders, its customers, and its employees. Why were there, one constantly wonders, no whistle-blowers with enough volume to be heard? There were plenty of situations that merited a long hard blow: poor leaders, bad communicators, greedy managers, overly-complicated reporting structures, see-saw strategies....

This book is "must reading" for any former ABN AMRO employee, as well as the many hundreds of consultants who wove their ways in and out of its history, for anyone sitting on--or considering sitting on--a board of a listed company, as well as regulators, politicians, shareholders, employees, journalists, lawyers, MBA students, new graduates entering the workforce....

It's right up there on my bookshelf holding its own next to the Enron story, The Smartest Guys in the Room.

The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron
3.0 out of 5 stars ok read 28 Mar 2014
By Jamie Matos - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Interesting book on the fall of ABN. it was a bit long winded and written in a very "Dutch" manner.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good reading for interested persons 4 Nov 2013
By Boris K. Petrov - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
the events around the fall of ABN Amro are very interesting and the author provided a lot of non-public information...
5.0 out of 5 stars Behind the stage 29 Sep 2013
By Ivan Campos P. - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a former ABN AMRO employee, it was amazing for me to know what was going on behind the stage. It helped me understand many things that happened when I was working for the dutch bank. After reading the book all makes more sense.

I saw the continuous strategy changes. One day ABN AMRO was an universal bank. A few weeks later AAB was a wholesale bank. After that, Chile where I was located, became a non core country and in 2008 the branch was sold to RBS. I am thankful with the management team in Chile, they made the journey less painful.

A great book, I recommend to all former ABN AMRO employees.
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