Skip to main content

European Business Two major Deutsche Bank shareholders skeptical of Commerzbank merger

Banners of Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank are pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, on Sept. 30, 2016.

Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Two top shareholders in Deutsche Bank are skeptical about a merger with its rival Commerzbank, doubting that such a combination would guarantee higher returns, people familiar with the matter said.

A German banking union also said on Monday it would strongly oppose any merger that resulted in large job cuts.

Deutsche Bank’s chief executive Christian Sewing has agreed to hold tentative talks with local rival Commerzbank after Berlin, worried about Deutsche’s health, pushed for a merger.

Story continues below advertisement

Deutsche Bank has struggled to generate sustainable profits since the 2008 financial crisis and has paid billions of euros in penalties and fines.

Those in favor of a merger say a tie-up would create a bank with an equity market value of more than 24 billion euros ($27 billion), based on Friday’s closing share prices, and a 20 percent share of the German retail banking market.

But two of Deutsche’s top shareholders are not convinced.

A merger would cost time and money, and it would in no way guarantee better returns, a person close to a top-10 Deutsche Bank shareholder said on Monday. “We’re still against such a merger and in principle don’t consider it a good idea,” the person said.

Before a decision is made on any merger, Deutsche must present a comprehensive plan for the future of the combined entity, a person familiar with the thinking of another top-10 investor said on Sunday.

“We continue to be skeptical that a merger would make sense,” this person said.

Deutsche and Commerzbank declined to comment on Monday.

The two banks will make a decision about whether to pursue a merger within weeks, a separate source has said.

The views of the two major investors contrast with those of U.S. investor Cerberus Capital Management, a major shareholder in both banks. A person familiar with the matter said last month that Cerberus was open to a merger, increasing the chances of a tie-up.

The prospect of a merger is also facing resistance from labor, amid expectations a tie up would lead to job cuts.

The DBV union will use all its resources to combat any merger that would lead to large job losses, a spokesman said, confirming comments originally reported in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Shares in Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank rose sharply on Monday as German business warmed to the prospect of a merger between the country’s two largest banks.

Deutsche Bank shares closed up 5 percent, while Commerzbank shares ended 7.2 percent higher, outperforming Germany’s blue-chip DAX index, which rose 0.75 percent.

Story continues below advertisement

Berlin based BGA, the Federation of German wholesale, foreign trade and services, which represents large and mid-sized export businesses said a merger could make sense if it resulted in one German player surviving in the longer run.

Tougher rules and low interest rates have made it more difficult to find banks willing to provide German companies with export finance.

“It is getting harder for companies to find a partner who can provide funding,” BGA President Holger Bingmann said.

“The business model of banks has come under pressure, and we would be glad if in the long run, to have at least one global player as a partner for our international business.”

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Unchecking box will stop auto data updates
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter