Rothschild wants to keep it in the family

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Financial Editor

The Rothschild family has reasserted its determination to retain control of the investment bank bearing its name in an unusual bid to quash market speculation of a sell-out. Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, the bank's chairman, said the family intends to remain in control of the holding company for the investment bank and remains committed to its independence.

The famous banking dynasty holds 75 per cent of Rothschild Continuation Holdings, the parent company. Speculation has focused on NatWest Group, which is known to be looking for a partner to build up its corporate finance and asset management activities.

Lord Alexander, NatWest's chairman, is understood to have made acquisition approaches to NM Rothschild, and there have also been informal discussions with Schroders and Flemings.All are understood to have emphasised their respective controlling families' determination to remain independent.

It is believed that Rothschild's decision to issue a public reaffirmation of its independent strategy was primarily aimed at reassuring corporate clients and its own overseas staff.

But sources at the bank also suggested that the persistent market speculation linking the Rothschild name to NatWest has been prompted in part by unhappiness in some quarters of the bank, notably corporate finance, at what is seen to be a lack of direction.