Just six of the 22 local authorities in Wales have submitted voluntary merger plans in time for the government's deadline.
The Welsh minister for public services, Leighton Andrews, confirmed the Government received only three bids by the deadline – Conwy CC and Denbighshire CC, Bridgend CC and the Vale of Glamorgan CC, and Torfaen CC and Blaenau Gwent CC.
The deadline for voluntary expressions of interest to merger was 28 November, following the publication of the Williams Commission report earlier this year, which recommended merging the 22 councils into 10, 11 or 12 unitary authorities.
Mr Andrews said: ‘By engaging in this process, they recognise the opportunity voluntary mergers offer them to be at the vanguard of shaping the future role of local government in Wales.’
The Welsh Government had also received a letter from Swansea City Council and Neath Port Talbot CC, indicating they are willing to explore the possibility of merging.
The minister said he would be writing to the respective councils in the New Year, setting out his views on the bids.
Several other councils rejected the idea of merging with neighbouring authorities altogether or failed to find a suitable partner.