The message to Deutsche Bank is clear: If it is going to sell its retail subsidiary Postbank, it should do so to a European partner.
The verdict was delivered after talks between Germany’s biggest bank and officials at the country’s Chancellery and Finance Ministry. Jürgen Fitschen and Paul Achleitner, the bank’s co-CEO and chairman, were told that the government supported Deutsche Bank’s planned realignment strategy, but that the sale of Postbank could be a sticking point.
It is only a request, not an explicit demand to which the bank would be bound. But it isn’t easy to ignore. “For Deutsche Bank, this all but rules out the involvement of a bank or financial investor from outside the E.U., such as from China, India or Russia,” say insiders at Deutsche Bank.
Finance ministry officials stress that the government did not make “any specific demands” on Deutsche Bank. According to government insiders, this is ultimately the company’s decision and not that of lawmakers.
The government’s involvement is not unusual. In recent years, the Chancellery and finance ministry have repeatedly contributed their ideas on the restructuring of the German banking sector. This was the case when Deutsche Bank first invested in Postbank in 2008, and when Dresdner Bank was sold to Commerzbank, Germany’s second-largest bank, in the same year, just before the bankruptcy of American investment bank Lehman Brothers.