Merkel - Won't take stand on possible Deutsche Bank/Commerzbank merger

FILE PHOTO: The Holbein pedestrian Bridge (Holbeinsteg) leads towards the banking district with Germany's second largest bank, Commerzbank (R), in Frankfurt, Germany, February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday only Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank could decide whether they wanted to merge, making clear she would not take a stand.

In her first comments on the prospect of a tie-up between Germany’s two largest banks since they confirmed talks on Sunday, Merkel said she was waiting to see what the outcome of those negotiations would be.

“I think something like this is a private economic decision and am very much in favour of the German government not interfering,” Merkel told a conference in Berlin.

“If both partners reach a result, then we have a certain interest in assessing it because we have a 15 percent stake in Commerzbank but that is a small share and therefore it’s an absolutely private decision,” she said.

“It is nothing new in Europe that we are seeing more consolidation in the banking market, but I personally am waiting for what the players, the economic players, tell me and I am not taking a stand,” Merkel, a conservative, said.

Her Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, a member of the Social Democrats, who share power in Merkel’s coalition, is widely seen as having pushed for such a merger.

Reporting by Madeline Chambers and Tassilo Hummel; Editing by Michelle Martin