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Sandy Chen mulls opening his own bank

SANDY Chen, one of the City&rsquo;s most respected banking analysts, is the latest financier to consider upping competition in the Square Mile by setting up his own bank.<br /><br />Panmure Gordon analyst Chen is understood to be in conversations with potential investors for the bank, which has yet to be named, and could raise around &pound;100m through a stock market listing.<br /><br />He has also held talks with former Bank of Scotland chief Sir Peter Burt about chairing the venture.<br /><br />But sources close to the stockbroker last night played down the idea that the launch of the new bank is imminent, saying that it is a &ldquo;great concept, but a long, long way from being a reality&rdquo;.<br /><br />The bank would seek to raise deposits from wealthy clients by offering above-average interest rates, and would use the cash to lend money to medium-sized enterprises which are finding it hard to grow due to low availability of credit.<br /><br />Chen, who has acted as an informal advisor to the Liberal Democrats during the financial crisis, recently quashed rumours that he was planning to run as a candidate for the party, saying that he couldn&rsquo;t &ldquo;afford the salary&rdquo;.<br /><br />Other financiers looking to enter the banking market &ndash; in which Alistair Darling has said he is committed to developing competition &ndash; are Sir Richard Branson&rsquo;s Virgin Money and US entrepreneur Vernon Hill, who is planning a new operation called Metro Bank, which would have hundreds of branches in London.