|First Niagara CEO John Koelmel|
Early in the week market rumors abounded that M&T Bank ( MTB) and Banco Santander ( STD) were rekindling acquisition talks. The two banks had been in merger discussions about a possible tie-up earlier in the year, but those talks stalled in the spring. The speculation is that one possible combination could be for M&T Bank to acquire Sovereign Bank, which is owned by Santander. The Spanish bank would then take a minority stake in the newly combined bank. Shares of M&T rose 5.2% this week on the speculation. The stock is up roughly 36% year-to-date. (At press time no official announcement of a deal had been made, but check back at TheStreet Monday morning at 7 a.m. EDT for Maria Woehr's and Laurie Kulikowski's Bank Stock Buzz video on what an M&T/Santander deal would mean for both banks and the industry.)
Earlier in the week Barclays ( BCS) reached a $289 million settlement with the U.S. Justice Department regarding allegations that the U.K.-based bank had violated trade sanctions and embargoes against Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Myanmar. Although prosecutors and bank lawyers seemed content with the settlement, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan called it "sweetheart deal" before endorsing the agreement a day later. -- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.