Barclays Plc considered UBS AG its preferred merger target just weeks before it bought U.S. assets from the collapsed Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc , the Financial Times said in its online edition on Monday.

A spokeswoman for Barclays did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Senior executives at Barclays Capital, Barclays' investment banking unit, had presented UBS as a favored takeover target at a July 2008 board meeting, the newspaper said, citing unnamed current and former directors.

At the time, UBS had already been feeling pain from the deteriorating housing market and related mortgage securities.

Barclays, meanwhile, had just failed to buy ABN Amro, losing out to a consortium of buyers. Two members of that group, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC and Fortis SA , were later subjected to government rescues.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Bernard Orr)