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Business

German Bank to Begin Merger Talks

HypoVereinsbank, Germany's second-biggest bank, and Italian group Unicredito could begin merger talks as early as May, the Financial Times Deutschland reported Wednesday, quoting banking sources in Milan. The two groups made preliminary contacts last year, the sources

said. And HVB chairman Dieter Rampl said this week that Unicredito would be an "attractive partner" and that the two banks would make an "interesting combination". The Italians also appeared to approve of the idea. "We like that," Unicredito chief Carlo Salvatori told the FT Deutschland. Rampl even indicated for the first time that the German bank would be prepared to play the junior role in any tie-up. "We're not in a position to take over such a partner," Rampl said. HVB booked a loss of 2.278 billion euros ($3.0 billion) last year, its third consecutive year-end loss. HVB and Unicredito have long been mooted as potential tie-up partners. Press reports have repeatedly suggested that the Italian bank was particularly interested in HVB's Austrian unit, Bank Austria.

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