Sovereign Bancorp's shares reached a new 52-week high on Monday amid speculation that the thrift is a takeover target of Royal Bank of Scotland.As MortgageWire went to press on Tuesday Sovereign's shares were trading up slightly at $23.18. The Philadelphia-based company is a top 60 ranked residential lender and a top 50 ranked servicer. A Sovereign spokesman said the company, "doesn't comment on rumors and speculation." Earlier this year Sovereign chairman Jay Sidhu said he would sell the thrift but only if he was offered a price that he liked. The spokesman noted that Mr. Sidhu never specified what that price might be. According to the Independent of London, Royal Bank of Scotland recently made a $7.5 billion bid for Sovereign but was rejected. The thrift, a retail and wholesale mortgage funder, has branches in the mid-Atlantic and New England area. A call placed to Royal Bank of Scotland had not been returned at press time.

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