Rumored Takeovers Would Consolidate German Bank Sector | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 23.05.2008
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Rumored Takeovers Would Consolidate German Bank Sector

Insurer Allianz and Commerzbank are reportedly forging plans to take over Germany's hotly sought-after Postbank. The merger would rival sector leader Deutsche Bank, which itself also kept the rumor mill going on Friday.

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Allianz, Germany's largest insurer, and Commerzbank, the country's second largest credit institution, have submitted a joint 10 billion-euro ($15.7 billion) bid to buy out Postbank, Manager Magazin reported on its Web site on Thursday, May 22.

The offer matches the current estimated value of Deutsche Post's retail banking subsidiary, which boasts 15 million private customers.

According to reports, Allianz has plans to eventually merge Postbank with its own banking subsidiary, Dresdner Bank.

The takeover would mean a decisive move toward the consolidation of Germany's banking sector and would result in a mega-bank set to rival the country's largest Deutsche Bank.

Deutsche Bank rumors

While Deutsche Bank has also expressed interest in Postbank, the country's No. 1 financial institution also made headlines on Friday amid rumors that it is in talks to buy the German subsidiary of US banking giant Citigroup, Citibank.

According to a report in Wirtschaftswoche magazine, which is due to appear on Monday, Deutsche Bank wants to merge the credit operations of Citibank with those of Norisbank, which it acquired in 2006.

Deutsche Bank signaled its interest in the German activities of Citigroup in late April, according to the report. Citigroup has suffered heavily from the meltdown in the US subprime -- high risk -- mortgage sector and has been looking to sell assets as a result.

Commerzbank, has also expressed an interest in Citibank, which has 3.25 million customers and 340 branches in Germany. Citibank would provide any new owner with a chance to boost its presence in the retail banking sector.

A Citibank spokesman refused to comment on the report, apart from recalling that Citigroup is considering different options for its retail banking operations in Germany. Deutsche Bank likewise had no comment.

Stock market reacts to rumors

Postbank shares meanswhile rose 1.2 percent on Thursday while Commerzbank shares rose 2.4 percent after reports on the planned takeover. The news also helped boost the DAX by 0.4 percent, along with unexpectedly positive reports on the US real estate and labor markets. The German government, which owns a 31 percent share in Deutsche Post, has for some time wanted it to sell its stake of 50 percent plus one share in Postbank.

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