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Comments spark speculation on Abbey takeover

A Call by Lloyds TSB for the government to relax banking merger rules has led to speculation in the City that the bank is set to resume its attempts to acquire rival Abbey.

The speculation began after comments made by Lloyds TSB chairman Maarten van den Bergh at a banking conference last week. At the event he questioned secretary to the Treasury Ruth Kelly on why banks should not be allowed to consolidate further.

The comments seemed to have an immediate positive effect with Abbey&#39s share price jumping 6.75p to 474.75p.

A spokesperson for Abbey refuses to comment on the speculation but says that the share price rise was in no way a result of the Lloyds chairman&#39s comments. Lloyds TSB&#39s press office makes a similar denial, stating that the company&#39s plan is for organic growth rather than mergers.

Three years ago the government stepped in to halt a £18bn bid by Lloyds for Abbey.

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