With the death in late February of Standard Chartered's biggest single shareholder, Khoo Teck Puat there has been some speculation as to whether the bank may be subject to a takeover. The late Singaporean tycoon owned 13.45%.
Now those who feel such an event is likely can put their money where there mouth is. London's famous online City broker, Blue Square has just opened a book on who will be Standard Chartered's successful suitor.
The odds are:
- Barclays 11/8 (favourite)
- Citigroup 15/8
- JPMorgan 9/4
- Bank of America 12/1
- Deutsche Bank 20/1
Putting Barclays as favourite looks a bold move given its strategy of the past seven years. But naming Citigroup as second favourite looks fair given its ability to buy almost anything of any size. JPMorgan bolting on StanChart's emerging markets franchise is arguably a very strong fit but it is going through its own merger with Bank One. At 12/1 Bank of America looks to be decent odds especially since it has the size and seems to have recently rediscovered an appetite for Asia. The outsider in the list is Deutsche, which also has the smallest market cap of the five listed entities. One surprise is that HSBC is missing, although Blue Square does say odds will be given on request for other contenders.
The bet is only valid for either side (bookmaker and bettor) if a merger or takeover of Standard Chartered is declared unconditional by February 28, 2005.