May 23, 2018

Activist pressure brings out blue-sky M&A thinking at Barclays

The courts threw out a UK Serious Fraud Office case against the bank over a 2008 fundraising. One senior banker described the exercise of considering deals with StanChart and a clutch of other banks as "Blue sky thinking", born out of pressure from Barclays' activist shareholder, Edward Bramson's Sherborne fund. A senior banking adviser added: "It's possible that Barclays could subsume Standard Chartered and not move [categories]." Within the eurozone at least, that could come with the support of the European Central Bank, which is keen to see cross-border deals that would validate the creation of a pan-regional Banking Union underpinned by a single supervisor within the ECB. One issue of concern to banks and European policymakers alike is the size gap that now yawns between them and their US rivals. Jean Lemierre, chairman of France's BNP Paribas, said at Wednesday's gathering of the Institute of International Finance, the global banking trade body, that for European banks and policymakers the growing market share of US investment banks was "a key question, from a strategic point of view".

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