Takeover Talk

Swiss giant joins hunt for Commerzbank

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A potential Swiss bid stoked speculation of a Commerzbank takeover. Source: Reuters

The vultures are circling, making Commerzbank look more than ever like a dead man walking. A Swiss daily reported that banking giant UBS has formed a team to pick over the parts of the German institution that might be worth bidding for. But, the report in Neue Zürcher Zeitung emphasized, the Swiss bank has no interest in taking over Commerzbank as a whole.

It has come to that. Amid speculation that Germany’s second-largest private sector bank is in play, potential bidders are no longer looking at the bank as a whole, but only the parts that are still viable. After decades of repeated rescues and overhauls – most recently by the German government in the wake of the financial crisis – a bank that seems to have no place in globalized finance may not be long for this world.

US private equity fund Cerberus took a stake earlier this month in Deutsche Bank, prompting speculation that the activist investor might push Germany’s largest bank to merge with Commerzbank, where Cerberus is also a major shareholder after announcing a 5-percent stake in August. Previous reports that BNP Paribas was interested in acquiring Commerzbank were denied earlier this month by Jean Lemierre, chairman of the French bank.

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