Standard Bank says in talks, shares rise

Africa’s biggest banking group by assets, Standard Bank, said on Tuesday it was in talks which if successfully concluded might affect its shares, sending the company’s stock higher.

Standard Bank said in a statement that it expected to make an announcement soon.

“It is anticipated that a further announcement will be made by the end of this week, 26 October 2007,” the bank said in a statement.

A bank spokesperson declined to comment beyond the cautionary announcement released to the JSE Securities Exchange. In terms of JSE rules, a company is compelled to issue a cautionary notice to shareholders if it was involved in confidential negotiations that may materially affect its shares.

One fund manager said the bank might be looking at making a big acquisition.

“The balance of probability is that they are buying something rather than someone is buying them, given [Standard Bank’s] sheer size,” said Coronation Asset Management fund manager Neville Chester.

Shares in Standard Bank were 3,33% higher at R109 having jumped as much as 7% to R112,19 earlier, pushing the group’s market capitalisation to around R154,89-billion.

A trader said the announcement came as a surprise. “Nice that we didn’t know about it [through rumours].
It shows that the mechanisms are working”.

Johannesburg-based Standard Bank is the biggest banking group by assets in Africa and operates in 17 African countries, and 21 other countries across the world.

Standard Bank has said in the past that it was looking at acquisition opportunities all the time.

Since the start of 2006, the group bought control of Nigeria’s IBTC Chartered Bank and most of Bank of America’s BankBoston Argentina assets.

Russian business daily Vedomosti reported in August that Standard Bank was in talks to buy a majority stake in Russian financial group Antanta Pioglobal. - Reuters

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