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Standard Chartered boss says takeover talk is "rubbish"

Standard Chartered Group Chief Executive Peter Sands speaks during a news conference in Hong Kong March 13, 2013. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Standard Chartered Group Chief Executive Peter Sands speaks during a news conference in Hong Kong March 13, 2013. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Standard Chartered's chief executive said takeover talk that has resurfaced around his bank after recent problems is "rubbish" and the Asia-focused lender's prospects remain strong.

"It's speculative rubbish," Peter Sands told Reuters Insider television at the World Economic Forum. "The bank is in very good shape, we have great opportunities in our markets, we have a very clear strategy and we have a great team."

Standard Chartered this month said that two senior executives were leaving and that the bank is reorganizing its structure to revive performance after a tough year. After 10 record years, earnings for 2013 are expected to fall because of problems in Korea, tougher regulations and a slowdown in Asia.

Takeover speculation has swirled around the bank for more than 30 years and its latest wobbles - and a fall in its share price to a 17-month low - stirred talk that rivals such as J.P. Morgan , Australia and New Zealand Bank , Santander and Barclays could be circling.

Sands, who has been chief executive since 2006, also played down talk that he could move to become chairman or that Mike Rees, who was named deputy CEO in this month's reshuffle, is being lined up as a replacement.

"I have no plans to do anything else," Sands said, adding that he is "very happy" in his job. "I've made very clear I have no interest in becoming chairman and I've never expressed any desire to do so."

Business leaders gathering for the annual networking forum in Davos are voicing confidence in economic prospects but said that policymakers must tread carefully, with Sands highlighting the dangers of failing to co-ordinate banking rules.

"We're still in a situation where there's a huge amount of change going on," he said. "The biggest headache is the fragmentation of the regulatory agenda and the fact that different parts of the world are putting the emphasis on different things.

"That has the risk of fragmenting global financial markets, which in turn brings dangers to global trade and investment."

However, he described concerns about a slowdown in China as "overblown".

"There are, of course problems, in areas like shadow banking. You would expect issues when you have a country grow that fast for such a prolonged period. But they are not problems that are going to derail China," Sands said, predicting that the country's economy will grow by about 7 percent this year.

(Reporting by Alexander Smith; Editing by David Goodman)

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