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Barclays mulling merger with rival bank, reports suggest

barclays-building-2012-700x450.jpgBarclays could be set for a tie up with a competitor bank in the wake of pressure from one of its largest shareholders.

The Financial Times reports that names in the frame include Standard Chartered, which two people close to the situation say was a favoured option of Barclays chairman John McFarlane and potentially supported by international boss Gerry Grimstone.

The paper says contingency planning is wide-ranging but is being put in place after Sherborne, the activist fund run by Edward Bramson, took a 5.4 per cent stake in Barclays.

A source told the paper a formal or informal bid has yet to be made, but private conversations had taken place among directors.

While one banker noted that McFarlane “has a real affinity for Standard Chartered” another said they would be “surprising if anything came of it” at this stage.

The wider contingency plans involve ways to put more capital back in the hands of shareholders, including by potentially shrinking Barclays’ corporate and investment banking division, as well as looking to build on the ringfenced side of the bank’s UK business.

Barclays and Standard Chartered both declined to comment to the paper.

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