Angela Merkel usually has other priorities than to attend the annual conference of the National Association of German Cooperative Banks (BVR). But this year, however, the chancellor will honor the annual banking bash in Berlin on Wednesday. Not to be upstaged, Ms. Merkel’s electoral challenger, Social Democratic leader Martin Schulz, will also come to the conference.
There’s good reason behind the unusual attention lavished on the BVR on behalf of Germany’s political A-listers: no other banking group has performed as well as Germany’s roughly 1,000 cooperative banks, Raiffeisen banks and credit unions and their central institute, the Frankfurt-based DZ Bank. Since the outset of the global financial crisis, these banks have together grown at a stronger clip than their competitors – and that without scandals and trials.
This development is particularly noteworthy in that cooperative banks, Raiffeisen banks and credit unions were long viewed as minor, provincial institutions in the German financial world. In the meanwhile, however, DZ Bank has become Germany’s second largest financial institution behind listed rival Deutsche Bank and ahead of the former number two, Commerzbank.