Wednesday 23 October 2019

Deutsche Bank CEO sees strong case for merger with Commerzbank

High stakes: Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank headquarters in Frankfurt
High stakes: Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank headquarters in Frankfurt

Tom Sims and Andreas Framke

Christian Sewing, the chief executive of Deutsche Bank, believes there is a strong case for a merger with rival Commerzbank, according to a person with direct knowledge of his thinking.

Sewing's stance ahead of Thursday's meeting of the supervisory board of Germany's largest bank sets the stage for a showdown with unions fearing massive job cuts.

Sewing sees multiple benefits of a merger, including "clear" dominance in its home market, scale, and shared technology costs, the person said.

Deutsche's CEO also believes that a combined entity would improve the cost of funding, with "the best funding ever", the person said. Jobs would be cut with or without a merger, the person said.

Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank declined to comment.

The position marks a shift in Sewing's position. In past months, he has urged patience, preferring to focus on internal restructuring before taking on a big project, according to other people with knowledge of his thinking.

The comments also contrast with the neutral tone set in a letter to employees on Sunday after both Deutsche and Commerzbank confirmed talks, Sewing said then that many factors could still prevent a merger.

Deutsche Bank would not have entered talks if the bank expected negotiations to fail, said a second person with knowledge of Sewing's thinking.


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