UPDATE 1-German bank fund sees Commerzbank stake sale soon-magazine

Sat Jul 20, 2013 9:52am EDT

Related Topics

* Soffin seen selling its stake in next six months - magazine

* "This is speculation and we will not comment on it" -Soffin

* FinMin has said no decision yet taken on exiting stake (Adds Soffin no comment)

FRANKFURT, July 20 (Reuters) - Germany's bank bailout fund Soffin expects Berlin to sell its 17 percent stake in the country's second-biggest lender, Commerzbank, in the coming months, a German magazine reported on Saturday.

"It's expected in the next six months," Wirtschaftswoche magazine quoted a source close to the government-controlled fund as saying.

BNP Paribas is a potential buyer for the stake, the magazine said, adding that the French lender identified Commerzbank as a target years ago and remains interested.

It also listed Spain's Santander and Switzerland's UBS as possibly interested.

All three bank names have been floated as potential bidders in the press in recent days.

A Soffin spokeswoman said the magazine's report was speculation on which the fund would not comment.

Germany's Finance Ministry has said repeatedly it wants the government's investment to be as short-lived as possible but no decision has been taken as to when the shares could be sold.

Berlin acquired the stake, which it holds through Soffin, as part of an 18 billion euro ($23.7 billion) government bailout in the financial crisis.

Reuters on July 16 cited political sources as saying that policymakers may look at selling the state's stake after national elections in September but little movement was expected before then.

Commerzbank's shares closed at 6.51 euros on Friday, far below the roughly 26 euros that Germany would have to sell at to avoid losses.

($1 = 0.7611 euros) (Reporting by Jonathan Gould and Alexander Huebner; Editing by Mark Potter)

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