NEW YORK Merrill Lynch & Co. chairman and chief executive David H. Komansky said Monday that the securities firm has had no merger discussions with its joint venture partner, HSBC Holdings PLC denying rumors that stemmed from his own comments over the weekend.
At a Goldman Sachs financial services conference in New York on Monday, Mr. Komansky said that his comments in an interview on CNBC had been taken out of context by several media organizations. He had said in the interview that, hypothetically, a merger with HSBC would make sense and add an enormous geographical reach for both of us.
I clearly and emphatically said right after the remark that we see no need for a combination of any sort, Mr. Komansky said Monday. We have never, ever had one word of conversation about any sort of combination other than the joint venture we have.
He said Merrill Lynch plans to remain independent, and that any merger would have to be one that can add more value for our shareholders than we can as an independent company.
But speculation has been rampant that Merrill would merge with HSBC Holdings ever since it started developing an Internet venture with the London banking company last year. The venture began operating in the U.K. last week.
HSBC executives last week downplayed the rumors, which had resurfaced after it filed paperwork in connection with a solicitation of shareholder approval for a possible share offering. The company had said in a note to shareholders that proceeds of an offering could be used for a variety of purposes, including acquisitions. The need for such an issue of shares could arise, for example, in the context of a transaction (such as the acquisition of a company) which had to be completed speedily, the note said.
Also on Monday, an HSBC spokeswoman in Hong Kong reiterated the companys position, saying that there had been no discussions beyond the joint venture and calling the merger rumors a nonstory.