BOA Gets Approval To Buy LaSalle Bank

July 13, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Over the past six and a half months, LaSalle Bank has been in the process of laying off nearly 300 of its Michigan employees. The lay-offs are part of the cost-savings strategy announced in December by parent company Dutch bank ABN Amro. The plan called for a work-force reduction of about 1,000 employees nationwide, with all layoffs to be completed by mid-July.

LaSalle spokesman Robert Darmanin declined to say how many of the 300 job cuts in the state have been in Grand Rapids and in West Michigan in general. LaSalle has some 260 branches and 4,400 employees in Michigan 

Darmanin said the job cuts are completely unrelated to the $21 million sale of Chicago-based LaSalle to Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America. The Dutch Supreme Court ruled on Friday that ABN Amro's sale of LaSalle to Bank of America was lawful. The sale is part of a $91 billion merger agreement between ABN Amro and London-based Barclay's Bank. However, the job cuts at LaSalle have been ongoing since the end of 2006, and the Bank of America bid came after the work-force reductions were well underway, Darmanin noted. He said the vast majority of cuts were recently completed. No branches were closed in the process.

"This was an initiative we announced and made very public back in December," Darmanin noted. "The staff reductions have touched all lines of business, and the layoffs have been stretched over a six-and-a-half month period. "We have a responsibility to serve our markets as efficiently and effectively as possible, regardless of the sale of ABN Amro to Barclay's."

Might more job cuts be ahead when Bank of America does absorb LaSalle? That question was posed to Dan Terpsma, president of LaSalle's West Michigan region, when Bank of America originally made the acquisition announcement.

Terpsma said that, typically, when Bank of America acquires another bank, it reduces the size of the acquired bank to the point where the acquisition can be made accretive to earnings. Though it's too early to tell how many jobs might be lost, Terpsma said there will naturally have to be some cuts. Those cuts customarily come in "backroom" — non-customer contact — operations, he explained.

"Those reductions would typically come in our computer areas and our operational areas, all of which are based in Chicago," Terpsma told the Business Journal. "Typically, the backrooms get consolidated, along with finance, accounting and support areas of the bank that would all presently be in Chicago."      

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