Barclays boss to woo rivals

MARTIN TAYLOR, chief executive of Barclays, is preparing to step up pressure on rivals and regulators for further wide-scale consolidation in the UK banking sector.

In an interview with The Independent on Sunday, Mr Taylor said he regarded further consolidation of world banking as "absolutely inevitable".

"I've been saying for the last 18 months that it's certain that there would be huge consolidation in world banking and since I've said it, there has been huge consolidation in world banking.

"Phase one has already happened. There's now going to be a phase two, three and four. I don't know when it will happen, and I don't have any particular axe to grind, but it seems to me to be absolutely inevitable - a case of simple laws of physics."

So far, Mr Taylor has encountered strong opposition from rivals to the idea of a merger, and ministers are known to be concerned about the consequences for competition of further concentration of ownership in the UK banking sector.

However, Mr Taylor believes that if UK banks are going to remain competitive, consolidation is going to have to occur. "You're going to get further national consolidation before there is large-scale cross border stuff, but that will come too," he said.

In response to recent speculation that he is preparing to exit Barclays, Mr Taylor said he was not ready for that yet. And in a hint that Barclays would lead the merger process, he said: "I could think of nothing better than to spend the next couple of years growing the business we already have. But the world moves on, and I doubt we'll get that luxury."

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