updated 1/10/2005 8:45:48 AM ET 2005-01-10T13:45:48

Shares in British bank Barclays PLC pushed higher Monday on media reports that it has held merger talks with U.S. banking giant Wells Fargo & Co.

Analysts said the talk of a merger, which would create a global financial services giant worth more than $100 billion, was in line with earlier speculation about trans-Atlantic banking deals and suitors for Barclays in particular.

"There's no change in the theory, it's just a new name in terms of the U.S. bank involved," said UBS banking analyst Stephen Andrews.

Takeover speculation in the market has previously linked Barclays to Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp.

Andrews said Barclays was a potential takeover target because of its size and the diversity of its businesses.

Barclays shares were up 1.3 percent at 605 pence ($11.34) at midday on the London Stock Exchange.

Britain's Sunday Express newspaper reported that discussions took place between the two banks in October and November. It added that talks ended before Christmas, but could be resumed in the coming weeks.

A Barclays spokesman said the bank did not comment on market speculation. Officials at San Francisco-based Wells Fargo could not immediately be reached for comment.

Wells Fargo, which was founded more than 150 years ago, provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgages and consumer finance through more than 6,000 outlets across North America.

Barclays is Britain's third-biggest bank in terms of assets, according to rankings released last August by The Banker.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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