Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank go public on merger talks

A merged bank would likely be the third largest in Europe after HSBC and BNP Paribas, with roughly 1.8 trillion euros ($2.04 trillion) in assets, such as loans and investments, and a market value of about 25 billion euros.

However, skeptics questioned the wisdom of a merger.

“We do not see a national champion here, but a shaky zombie bank that could lead to another billion-euro grave for the

German state. Why should we take this risk?” said Gerhard Schick, finance activist and ex-member of the German parliament.

While the banks had not publicly commented on merger talks until Sunday, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz last Monday confirmed that there were negotiations.

On Sunday, the ministry acknowledged the announcement and said it remained in regular contact with all parties.

However, there were signs of political opposition.

Hans Michelbach, a lawmaker from the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), urged the government to sell its 15 percent stake in Commerzbank before a deal.

“There may not be an ownership by the federal government in a merged big bank indirectly through an old stake. We do not need a German State Bank AG,” he told Reuters.

The supervisory boards of both banks are scheduled to hold long-planned meetings on Thursday, four people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. The status of merger negotiations is expected to be discussed.

A merged bank would have one fifth of the German retail banking market. Together the two banks currently employ 140,000 people worldwide — 91,700 in Deutsche and 49,000 in Commerzbank.

Germany’s Verdi labor union on Sunday renewed its objections to a merger, saying that tens of thousands of jobs were at risk and that a tie-up added no value.

Jan Duscheck, head of the union’s banking division and a member of Deutsche’s supervisory board, said the union would raise its concerns on both banks’ oversight bodies.

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