Barclays cools rumours of Standard Chartered bid

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Barclays yesterday moved to quash rumours it was poised to bid for Standard Chartered, a rival bank, although it hinted at the possibility of future acquisitions.

In a carefully worded statement, Barclays said: "Barclays wishes to clarify that, while it continues to monitor developments among competitors throughout the financial services sector, it is not in discussions with Standard Chartered".

In a separate statement, Standard Chartered said it was "not in discussions with any party concerning a merger or a takeover."

The two statements followed weekend press reports that Martin Taylor, Barclays' chief executive, made merger overtures to Malcolm Williamson, Standard Chartered's chief executive, over dinner at Chez Nico's, an exclusive London restaurant.

Barclays played down suggestions that Mr Taylor had, without encouragement from Standard Chartered, made an overt approach. One said: "The conversation was not as one-sided as has been reported."

Sources close to Standard Chartered disagreed. One said: "We're a bit confused about all this. He [Mr Taylor] invited Malcolm to dinner. He suggested the restaurant. He paid the bill. He made the suggestion."

Separately, Barclays announced Sir Andrew Large, former chair of the Securities and Investment Board, is to replace Sir Peter Middleton as deputy chairman of the bank.

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