Slaughter and May partner Nigel Boardman will not be gearing up for bid defence work on behalf of blue chip client Standard Chartered Bank.
Despite recent newspaper stories about bids from other top banks and an item in The Sunday Telegraph last week, Standard Chartered insists there are currently no merger talks.
Boardman, whose previous M&A work for target companies includes Kleinwort Benson, ACT, Forte, Fisons, and Wellcome, said: “We have been lucky enough to be solicitors for Standard Chartered for many years.”
He added: “At the moment it's just business as usual.”
For months, the City has buzzed with rumours over the future of Standard Chartered, one of the UK's last independent merchant banks.
Some commentators have speculated on the prospect of another foreign takeover, and the massive fees for legal and financial advisers which are associated with such a bid.
A Standard Chartered spokesman described a recent story linking the bank with three leading Swiss banks – UBS, SBC and Credit Suisse – as “grossly inaccurate”.
He said that while the bank was “firmly in the bid frame”, any reports of formal talks were “just pie in the sky”. The spokesman added that the same was true of reports that Standard Chartered was strengthening a bid defence team by hiring US bank Goldman Sachs. “Goldmans has been an adviser to us for 10 years,” he said.
While the Swiss banks never publically respond to market rumours about approaches, sources close to all three said they were not considering bids for Standard Chartered.
One source suggested the story had arisen from market makers talking up share prices. “There's a little bit of muck-raking going on,” she said.
Recent stories which linked NatWest to Standard Chartered have also been denied.