Germany ramps up steps to seek merger between battered bank giants Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank

Christian SewingDeutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing speaks at the 28th Frankfurt European Banking Congress (EBC) at the Old Opera house in Frankfurt, Germany November 16, 2018. REUTERS/Ralph OrlowskiRalph Orlowski/REUTERS

  • German authorities are ramping up discussions about a possible merger between the country's two biggest banks, Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank.
  • The finance ministry asked the banking regulator to share the results of its analysis of a potential merger between the two.
  • Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Deutsche Bank's CEO Christian Sewing are said to have discussed possibilities, Bloomberg has reported.

The German finance ministry asked the banking regulator to share the results of its analysis of a potential merger between Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank.

People briefed on the matter told the Financial Times that the finance ministry was "definitely looking" at a merger between the banks, important because Germany needs a lender big enough for global expansion.

With close to €2 trillion in total assets ($2.3 trillion) the merged company would be the third-largest European bank after HSBC and BNP Paribas. The move highlights how German officials are worried about the financial helath of the country's two biggest lenders, along with their battered share prices.

The German government is stepping up its efforts to help Deutsche Bank, and officials have said that they're examining ways in which the bank could merge with Commerzbank more easily.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Deutsche Bank's CEO Christian Sewing are said to have discussed possibilities, Bloomberg has reported.

Deutsche Bank shares have fallen more than 50% in 2018, hitting record lows on numerous occasions.

Takeover or merger talk is nothing new for Deutsche. Last month, Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat reportedly told German business publication Manager Magazin that there was too much "overlap" between Citigroup's and Deutsche Bank's businesses, and that a takeover based purely on cost savings wasn't a good idea.

A combined German lender is said to have been on the country's agenda for a while in an attempt to prevent the exodus of foreign capital from the economy and create a banking heavyweight.

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