Copy of 2023-02-16T001652Z_291226537_RC2MJV9P14X5_RTRMADP_3_STANCHART-RESULTS-1676538826384
This comes after First Abu Dhabi Bank dropped pursuit of Standard Chartered bid. Image Credit: REUTERS

Dubai: Standard Chartered’s chief financial officer said the bank has had no contact with First Abu Dhabi Bank despite continuing speculation about a potential takeover bid for the emerging markets-focused lender.

“There has been no contact whatsoever,” Andy Halford said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “We’re not going to comment on speculation.”

Halford also said that the bank’s bigger-than-expected $1 billion share buyback announced Thursday alongside the London-based bank’s fourth-quarter results wasn’t a defensive move designed to shore up investor support against any bid.

“We would have done this whatever the speculation was out there,” he said.

Last month, CEO Bill Winters told Bloomberg that while it was “logical” Middle Eastern financial institutions flush with cash from bumper energy prices would be on the prowl for deals, he thought Standard Chartered would be better off remaining independent.

“This is not something we’ve either engaged with, or been interested in,” said Winters, speaking last month. “The thing with Standard Chartered is we are doing very well all by ourselves. Everything is on track for us.”

Asked about what valuation the bank might possibly attract, Halford said “time would tell” in terms of the business’s fair value. “We think there’s still a lot of room to go.”

Halford, while declining to discuss specific clients, also played down concerns about Standard Chartered’s exposure to the struggling business empire of Indian billionaire Gautam Adani.

“We’re very comfortable with our position in India generally,” he said. “If there was anything we were concerned about we’d say it today.”