Dear bankers: the language is ours not yours

Tomorrow's Business

Bankers and their flaks can get very exercised by the use of certain words: in particular, they don’t like to read “bid” or “talks” without their approval.

Late last night the FT reported that Barclays chairman John McFarlane had casual talks about merging with Standard Chartered.

This idea looks to be a complete non-starter, for a host of reasons, some of them regulatory.

As ideas go, it’s utter madness anyway.

Nothing is ongoing. Nevertheless, talks were held. Even if only over a glass of wine at the Chelsea Flower Show.

A bid was made.

Bankers and their flaks like to insist that there’s only been a bid or talks when something formal has occurred. When they have alerted the stock market to the situation. They are wrong.

A time may come when investment bankers own the English language and are allowed to tell the rest of us how we must use it.

Until then, these words and others shall be used as the dictionary defines, or as it pleases us.



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