Although it is only at the very early stage, Barclays is considering acquiring ABN Amro, a person familiar with the talks tells Bloomberg, while The Wall Street Journal says a number of companies, including BNP Paribas and Societe Generale, are looking into acquiring ABN Amro.

Barclays is considering a bid of $80 billion, says Jean-Pierre Lambert, an analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.

Barclays CEO John Varley said last month that he plans for the bank, the U.K.’s third largest, to grow “aggressively.”

“It makes sense on a strategic and geographical basis,” said Guy de Blonay, a fund manager with New Star Asset Management, who holds shares in Barclays. “Barclays is looking for something in Brazil, more in the U.S. and wants to expand in Italy. [And] looking at the sum of the parts, ABN Amro is a cheap stock.”

As to why ABN Amro is interested in being acquired, the company has experienced loan losses in the U.S., Latin America and Taiwan, and has been looking for a way to cut expenses following its purchase last year of Banca Antonveneta. In addition, activist shareholders have been pushing it to sell.

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