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Standard Chartered not actively looking for buyers

Standard Chartered Reuters/Denis Balibouse
Standard Chartered CEO Bill Winters: the bank revealed Q1 profits increases of 21% as rising interest rates boost income
  • First Abu Dhabi Bank shelved plans to bid for Standard Chartered
  • CEO Bill Winters says UK bank to continue growing independently
  • Recent US or Swiss banking problems of little concern to global activity

Standard Chartered is not actively seeking potential suitors for an acquisition, although CEO Bill Winters said they are “always happy to have conversations”.

The London-listed bank has been the subject of speculation this year around a possible sale to First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the UAE’s biggest lender.

“Nobody has come after us,” Winters told delegates at the Dubai Fintech Summit on Monday.

The Abu Dhabi lender had intimated back in January that it had considered a bid for Standard Chartered, although it added that the plans had subsequently been shelved.

Higher interest rates, a slowdown in non-oil activity and uncertain global economic conditions mean UAE banking industry loan growth is forecast to slow to around 3 percent this year, S&P Global said, down from nearly 6 percent in 2022. 

The slowdown has spurred FAB and Dubai lender Emirates NBD to consider foreign acquisitions, analysts told AGBI.

But Winters said he saw no reason why that should involve Standard Chartered. “We want to keep on growing and living an independent life,” he said.

“If somebody wants to come in and talk to us about how they can make us better, then be my guest.”

Standard Chartered last month revealed first quarter profits increased 21 percent as rising interest rates boosted income from its cash management and retail banking business.

Also last month it was revealed that Saudi sovereign wealth fund-owned AviLease is competing to buy Standard Chartered Plc’s aviation finance business.

The Riyadh-based jet lessor is among several firms shortlisted for the second bidding round for the unit, Bloomberg reported in April, citing unnamed sources.

In March Standard Chartered agreed to sell its business in Jordan to Arab Jordan Investment Bank (AJIB).

Meanwhile, Winters told the fintech event in Dubai that he did not foresee a big recession in the US, although he said that a period of negative growth was “possible”.

And despite the ongoing global banking crisis, which has this year claimed Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), Signature Bank and First Republic in the US, and Credit Suisse in Switzerland, he remained “optimistic about the Gulf”.

“I’m not concerned about the problems in the banking sector in the US or Switzerland – which is where they’ve been so far – I’m not really concerned about it spilling over into global economic activity,” he said.