By Lawrence White and Sinead Cruise
LONDON (Reuters) – Barclays Plc <BARC.L> is not exploring a potential merger with other banks, two sources close to the bank told Reuters, dismissing a media report that said Barclays was considering a possible deal with rivals including Standard Chartered <STAN.L>.
The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that Barclays’ senior board members were exploring a deal with another bank and chairman John McFarlane was keen on the idea of a possible combination with StanChart. https://on.ft.com/2IWuFwR
Barclays and Standard Chartered declined to comment on the FT report.
Standard Chartered shares rose by 2 percent while Barclays shares were flat on Wednesday morning, in line with the FTSE index of British banks <.FTNMX8350>.
The FT said the moves were part of wide-ranging contingency plans being considered by the bank in response to pressure from activist investor Edward Bramson, who has become one of its biggest shareholders.
Barclays is under pressure to bolster profits after Chief Executive Jes Staley’s aggressive push in investment banking since he joined in 2015 largely failed to bear fruit.
Two sources close to the bank told Reuters on Wednesday no deal was in the works and Barclays had no plans to combine its operations with any of its rivals.
Bramson’s fund Sherborne Investors has called on Barclays to end the bulk of trading activities at its investment bank, in a radical plan to cut costs and boost returns at the British lender, three sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters.
The FT report said that Barclays International Unit chair, Gerry Grimstone, supported McFarlane’s idea of a tie up with StanChart. The FT said that a private conversation had taken place between a director at each bank about the potential benefits of such a deal, but no formal or informal bid approach had taken place.
Analysts were sceptical about the logic of the potential deal and the likelihood of its happening.
“We see absolutely no strategic logic or rationale behind such a transaction,” said Edward Firth, analyst at KBW in London, citing the bank’s differing strategic problems that would not be solved by a merger.
Barclays needs to improve performance at its investment bank, while Standard Chartered needs to generate more capital to capture growth opportunities in its markets of Asia, Africa and Middle East.
“Neither problem is solved by the other,” Firth said.
(Additional reporting by by Rishika Chatterjee and Ishita Chigilli Palli in Bengaluru, and Pamela Barbaglia in London, editing by Silvia Aloisi and Jane Merriman)