Industry Financing Could Change With ABN Merger

British bank Barclays has agreed to buy Dutch bank ABN AMRO, a leading bank for the diamond and jewelry industry, for about 67 billion euros ($91 billion) in what analysts are calling one of the largest bank mergers ever. According to estimates, ABN holds an estimated one-fourth of the diamond industry's financing portfolio and also lends to many jewelry companies. And there is considerable speculation among the diamond trade—and other jewelry industry bankers—that a new, more hard-nosed owner could force it to tighten up credit. Analysts say this could have a ripple effect—and retailers could have less memo and other credit available. As a Dutch bank, ABN has had historic ties to the diamond industry in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Antwerp, Belgium. Executives there have long-standing relationships with the jewelry industry, particularly U.S.-based group vice president Anna

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