FRANKFURT/LONDON, May 14 (Reuters) - UniCredit has engaged investment bankers, including a former top German official, to advise it on a potential bid to buy Commerzbank , according to three people familiar with the matter.
The people said that UniCredit had engaged Lazard and its banker Joerg Asmussen, the former German deputy finance minister, and JPMorgan on a possible takeover, a deal that could see one of Italy’s largest lenders pivot away from its struggling home country towards Germany.
UniCredit, JPMorgan, Lazard, Commerzbank and Germany’s finance ministry declined to comment. Asmussen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Although it is unclear whether and when a bid could be made, UniCredit’s top management has long been interested in expanding the group’s operations in Germany, according to people familiar with their thinking. It already owns HVB, a large German lender based in Munich. (Reporting by Arno Schuetze and John O’Donnell in Frankfurt and Silvia Aloisi in Milan; Pamela Barbaglia in London; Additional reporting by Hans Seidenstuecker and Klaus Lauer; Writing by John O’Donnell; Editing by Tom Sims)