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Standard Chartered ‘absolutely not’ for sale, bank CEO says

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LONDON — The CEO of Standard Chartered said the bank was “absolutely not” for sale following speculation of a takeover bid.

Bill Winters told CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore Thursday that a potential sale is not what the company is focused on.

“On the right terms, somebody wants to come and thinks that they can so something, I would encourage engagement rather than … speculation through the press,” he said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe.”

“But of course, we have a fiduciary responsibility to our shareholders and if somebody wants to come and thinks they can add a lot of value, as I’ve said, be my guest.”

The comments come after First Abu Dhabi Bank said Friday that it was not evaluating an offer for Standard Chartered.

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“First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC notes the recent press speculation in relation to Standard Chartered and re-iterates that it is not evaluating a possible offer for Standard Chartered,” the bank said in a statement.

In January, FAB — the United Arab Emirates’ biggest lender — said it had considered making a bid for StanChart but was not doing so anymore.

Standard Chartered CEO says the bank has not engaged with prospective bidders

Standard Chartered saw its shares rise 11% on Feb. 9 after Bloomberg News reported that FAB was “pressing ahead” with a potential takeover and was considering making an offer of between $30 million and $35 million for StanChart.

However, Winters was keen to highlight Standard Chartered was growing “really nicely independently.”

“We’ve had no engagement with any prospective bidders, aren’t seeking any engagement with any prospective bidders and don’t need to,” Winters said. 

His comments came as the bank announced a new $1 billion share buyback program after reporting a 28% increase in annual pretax profit.

The bank, which is focused on Asia, Africa and the Middle East, also upgraded its forecasts.

Global interest rate hikes improved the bank’s lending revenue, but that accounted for less than half of the company’s annual growth, according to Winters.

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“The economic environment in which we operate feels very good, and overall that sounds like we should keep on going full speed ahead, keep our heads down, don’t get distracted by stories that come up one side or the other, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.

Source: CNBC

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