BERLIN, July 9 Germany's monopolies commission
on Wednesday urged the German government to sell its 17 percent
stake in Commerzbank, which the state purchased as
part of an emergency bail out during the financial crisis.
Commerzbank was one of the highest-profile casualties of the
global financial crisis with the German government spending
around 18 billion euros ($25 billion) to bail it out.
"The monopoly commission actually urges that the state
withdraw from Commerzbank," said Daniel Zimmer, head of the
commission which advises the government on competition issues,
while presenting a report.
The government's stake represents an additional nuisance in
a financial market already marked by numerous competitive
distortions, the commission said. It made no sense for the
government to sit on the stake in hopes of a better share price.
The government has said it wishes to avoid selling the stake
at a loss to taxpayers but that it had no plans to remain a
Since the bail-out, Commerzbank has cut costs and sold
assets, and returned to profit in 2013. But like rivals it is
struggling with low interest rates and weak fixed-income
markets, and also faces growing competition for its core
mid-sized company customers - the backbone of Europe's largest
Analysts calculate that the break-even price for the
government would be around 26 euros per share, far from the
current price of 10.94 euros. The bank's shares have shed almost
7 percent so far this year, underperforming the European bank
index, down 2 percent, but outperforming flagship
Deutsche Bank, down 21 percent.
The monopoly commission in Germany is an independent body
that can make recommendations but cannot force the government to
(Reporting by Gernot Heller; writing by Thomas Atkins; Editing
by Elaine Hardcastle)