GERMAN BANKING

Cerberus Takes a Bite Out of Commerzbank

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Cerberus feeds on hard-luck companies. Picture source: Reuters

The US hedge fund Cerberus Capital Management takes its name from the three-headed hound of Hades in Greek mythology and is known more for its bite than its bark.

Germany’s second-largest bank, Commerzbank, is likely to feel that bite in coming months now that Cerberus has taken a 5-percent stake in the troubled bank.

“Troubled” is a word that often fits the Frankfurt-based bank, which is nearly 150 years old. In the past few decades, it has repeatedly flirted with disaster as an also-ran in a saturated market dominated by its fellow “Grossbanks,” Deutsche and Dresdner.

But it was Commerzbank that swallowed up Dresdner at the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, as insurer Allianz looked for a buyer for its wholly-owned unit. In the meantime, Deutsche has its own set of problems from years of missteps.

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