Barclays and Halifax keep mum

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HALIFAX and Barclays Bank refused to comment yesterday on weekend reports that they are in the early stages of talks that could lead to a pounds 39bn merger. Both parties emphasised that a categorical denial would rule out any deal for at least two years. The reports follow news last week that Halifax has held talks with Prudential about a pounds 36bn merger.

Analysts say the logic of a Halifax-Barclays tie-up would be to attempt to mirror the success of Lloyds-TSB