Scholz: deutsche bank and commerzbank sound out the situation

Deutsche bank and commerzbank sound out the current situation according to words of federal finance minister olaf scholz (SPD).

"There are consultations about the situation as it is. The federal government is a fair companion to private-sector discussions," said scholz on monday on the sidelines of the meeting of euro finance ministers in brussels. "There is nothing more to say at the moment."

The german newspaper "welt am sonntag" reported at the weekend that the board of deutsche bank had decided to enter into talks with the competitor. There have already been "unofficial contacts in very small circles," but they are not yet at a stage where they are required to be communicated. Spokesmen for both banks declined to comment on the report.

Speculation about a merger of the last two independent major german banks has persisted for months. Since summer, state secretary of finance jorg kukies, ex-head of goldman sachs in germany, and finance minister scholz have been promoting stronger german banks.

According to its own statement, the federal government is "open to economically sensible options". Since the financial crisis, the federal government has become commerzbank’s largest single shareholder, holding a good 15 percent of the shares. According to "welt am sonntag," scholz and kukies are said to have urged the bank’s ceos christian sewing (deutsche bank) and martin zielke (commerzbank) to consider a merger.

Low interest rates and regulatory costs are causing problems for the industry, and deutsche bank has also had to deal with expensive legacy issues in recent years. After three consecutive years of losses, germany’s biggest money house has just returned to profitability in 2018.

Commerzbank does not yet see itself as having reached its goal in the restructuring of the group. In the fall, the bank even dropped from the dax to the mdax in view of the fact that its stock market value had also been sharply cut. Whether a merger of the two houses would be the solution to the problems is disputed among experts.