FRANKFURT, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Jean Lemierre, chairman of the board of BNP Paribas dampened speculation that France’s biggest bank is interested in a tie-up with Germany’s Commerzbank.
“We are good friends. But we are friends. Competitors. And we like it,” Lemierre said on Friday at a banking conference in response to a question.
“No more, no rumour, no comment,” he said, while seated next to Commerzbank CEO Martin Zielke.
Several people close to the matter said last month that Commerzbank is working with two investment banks to be prepared in case of a takeover bid from a European rival.
The German government, which still holds a 15.6 percent stake, has denied a report that it favoured a merger of Commerzbank with France’s BNP Paribas.
Separately, Italy’s UniCredit has recently told Berlin it is interested in eventually merging with Commerzbank, according to people close to the matter.
The investment of U.S. buyout fund Cerberus in both Commerzbank and peer Deutsche Bank has added fuel to speculation that a merger between the two may be on the cards eventually. (Reporting by Tom Sims; Editing by Adrian Croft)