Germany open to Commerzbank nationalisation - Spiegel

BERLIN Sun Dec 4, 2011 7:02am EST

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BERLIN Dec 4 (Reuters) - Germany is open to a nationalisation of Commerzbank if the country's second-biggest bank cannot raise sufficient capital next year, Der Spiegel weekly reported on Sunday.

The finance ministry declined to comment on the report.

If the lender fails to find the capital needed to comply with tighter regulatory requirements by next summer, the government will reactivate its bank rescue fund Soffin and could buy up further Commerzbank shares, the magazine reported, citing government sources.

Germany, which bought 25 percent of the bank in exchange for help during the financial crisis, would purchase the majority of shares if the bank were to undertake a capital increase, the magazine said.

The bank was believed to need up to about 5 billion euros ($6.7 billion)by mid 2012 to fulfil the tighter capital requirements made by the European Banking Authority bank regulator, sources have told Reuters.

The government is against buying Eurohypo, the bank's loss-making real estate finance unit, the magazine said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Free Democrat (FDP) junior coalition partner have already rejected that idea, saying banks should find extra cash themselves whenever possible.

Eurohypo is a milstone around Commerzbank's neck. No private buyer is in sight and it is widely seen as too big to sell, with total assets of over 200 billion euros.

On Friday, a source told Reuters a sale of Eurohypo to the government would bring Commerzbank close to bridging its funding gap.

Commerzbank chief executive Martin Blessing has vowed not to turn to the state for further help.

The EBA, sifting the results of a second stress test of 70 banks in the EU, was expected to announce next week the amount of capital the lenders must raise. ($1 = 0.7446 euro) (Reporting By Madeline Chambers; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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