Commerzbank CEO says independence no end in itself

BERLIN Sat Nov 2, 2013 9:00pm EDT

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BERLIN Nov 3 (Reuters) - The chief executive of Commerzbank said Germany's second largest lender should not remain independent at all costs, a German newspaper reported.

"To me, autonomy is no end in itself," Martin Blessing was quoted as saying by weekly Welt am Sonntag in an interview published on Sunday. "I want our employees to have the feeling that they can do something meaningful for the economy."

That marks a shift in emphasis by the CEO, who told daily Handelsblatt in August that he expected the Frankfurt-based bank to be still independent when it celebrates its 150-year anniversary in 2020.

Local media recently reported that the German government, which invested 18.2 billion euros ($24.55 billion) in Commerzbank as part of a bailout during the financial crisis, aims to sell off its 17 percent stake to another European bank.

Major lenders including BNP, Unicredit and UBS have played down speculation linking them to Commerzbank, which analysts expect to post a sharp drop in third-quarter pretax profit on Nov. 7.

($1 = 0.7414 euros) (Reporting by Andreas Cremer)

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