FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Austrian lender Bawag PSK [CCMLPB.UL] has expressed interest in purchasing Germany's Postbank DPBGn.DE from its owner Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE), German media reported on Friday, citing unnamed sources.
Bawag said earlier in May it was on the lookout for retail acquisitions as majority owner Cerberus Capital Management [CBS.UL] conducts a strategic review of the westward-looking bank, which unlike other big Austrian banks has minimised exposure to volatile central and eastern Europe.
German newspaper Die Welt wrote in its online edition that the much-smaller Bawag was interested in exploring a takeover of Postbank using Ceberus's financial firepower.
Weekly Manager Magazin wrote that Bawag was prepared to pay up to 4.5 billion euros (£3.2 billion) for Postbank. Cerberus would combine the two into one, big retail bank and then seek to attract an international buyer, the magazine said in the summary of an article.
A spokesman for Postbank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A Deutsche Bank spokesman declined to comment specifically on the newspaper report but referred to the bank's previous statement that it planned to list Postbank on the stock exchange and deconsolidate the unit by end-2016.
A spokesman for Bawag also declined to comment specifically on the report. "Our shareholders are exploring strategic options for Bawag," he said, adding that the group continued to focus on its daily business.
Bawag has a similar business model to Germany's Postbank, distributing its products and services via post offices.
Bawag, however, has already completed a thorough restructuring following Ceberus' purchase in 2006 and has seen profitability surge.
Deutsche Bank's plans to sell Postbank and pare assets in its investment bank have disappointed investors who wished for a more dramatic restructuring.
Its shares have fallen about 8 percent since the plan was announced, compared to a flat performance by the STOXX index of European banks .SX&P.
Reporting by Thomas Atkins; Additional reporting by Shadia Nasralla in Vienna and Kathrin Jones in Frankfurt; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle