February 26, 2019 / 6:05 PM / 7 months ago

Investor Cerberus favours Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank merger - Handelsblatt

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - U.S. investor Cerberus, which is a major shareholder in both Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, favours a merger between the two, a German newspaper reported on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Banners of Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank are pictured in front of the German share price index, DAX board, at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

Handelsblatt, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter, said Cerberus, which owns 3 percent of Deutsche Bank and 5 percent of Commerzbank, had initially been against a merger but had changed its mind.

Speculation of a merger between Germany’s largest listed banks has heightened under the tenure of Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who has spoken in favour of strong banks.

Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank declined to comment. Cerberus did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The U.S. buyout fund is among the largest shareholders in both Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank after buying stakes in 2017, since when the shares of both banks have since fallen sharply.

Cerberus is now backing a merger because it does not believe that Deutsche Bank can overhaul its operations on its own, Handelsblatt reported.

The investor is of the opinion that a merger would allow the two banks to invest in technology together and save costs in other areas, the report said.

Scholz’s team has met frequently with executives of Deutsche, Commerzbank and major shareholders, including Cerberus. The government still owns more than 15 percent in Commerzbank after a bailout.

A merger between the two banks has appeared more likely since last month when two people with the knowledge of the matter said that time was running out for Deutsche Bank to turn itself around on its own.

Both banks are in the process of restructuring themselves, and executives at both lenders say privately that they would prefer to remain independent to carry out those plans.

Reporting by Tom Sims; Editing by Edmund Blair, Mark Potter and Alexander Smith

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