On Our Radar: Deals we are paying attention to for their impact on industry.
Foot-dragging to the altar has plagued many a wedding, especially when it’s one of convenience.
So while the government-sanctioned courtship of Deutsche Bank and its cross-town rival Commerzbank, Germany’s two biggest lenders, has stalled, UniCredit, an Italian no less, has hopes of strolling down the aisle with Commerzbank, according to news accounts.
Reuters reported on April 4 that Italy’s Unicredit was a possible bidder for Commerzbank, dampening hopes of the German government to create a “champion” bank with its takeover by Deutsche. The Financial Times reported that the Italian bank was prepping a multibillion-euro bid to gain a large stake in Commerzbank, which it would then merge with HypoVereinsbank, a German lender it already owns. The Italian’s interest in Commerzbank isn’t new; in 2017, UniCredit approached German officials about a tie-up.
The German finance ministry favors the merger between the two Frankfurt-based banks as a way to shore up Deutsche Bank, which has suffered mightily in recent years: sliding revenue, a halving of its share-price value, several failed turnaround plans, the departure of key executives, numerous investigations and lawsuits, and a raid on its headquarters in November, according to Bloomberg.
However, the country’s labor unions oppose it, fearing very likely job cuts at both banks, and some major investors question whether it makes sound business sense. Even worse is the response from the country’s lawmakers. They have cautioned the country’s finance minister that they will block the use of public money needed for the merger, noted Reuters, which could require some $11.2 billion of new capital.
Commerzbank is in about 50 countries and has 49,000 employees, according to its website, whereas Deutsche is the world’s 15th-largest bank and is in nearly 60 countries. The Milan-based Unicredit operates in almost 40 countries and has more than 147,000 workers.
Michelle Lodge is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared in Time, Fortune, Barron's, the Miami Herald, the British Medical Journal as well as on CNBC.com.