July 26, 2017 / 3:06 PM / 2 years ago

Cerberus builds stake controlling 5 percent of Commerzbank voting rights

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Commerzbank (CBKG.DE) said on Wednesday that U.S. buyout fund Cerberus has built a stake controlling 5.01 percent of the German bank’s voting rights, as of July 25.

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a branch of Commerzbank in Frankfurt, Germany, February 9, 2017. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo

Cerberus now ranks as Commerzbank’s second-largest shareholder, behind the German government with a 15.6 percent stake and marginally ahead of BlackRock with a 5.0 percent stake, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The value of the stake is about 678 million euros ($789 million), based on current market capitalization.

The German government welcomed the Cerberus investment. “Rising investor interest is positive for Commerzbank and its share price,” said a spokeswoman for the German Finance Ministry. “We haven’t changed our position on Commerzbank.” The guiding principle, she said, was: “We want a good financial result for taxpayers.”

Representatives for Commerzbank and Cerberus declined to comment.

Cerberus has made acquisitions in European financial institutions. It owns 52 percent of Austrian bank BAWAG [CCMLPB.UL], which is making preparations for an initial public share offering that could value it at up to 5 billion euros.

BAWAG said this month it had bought German regional lender Suedwestbank for an undisclosed price to expand its network in western Europe.

Shares in Commerzbank, Germany's second-biggest bank, extended gains on the news, trading 2.1 percent higher by 1414 GMT, putting them among the top gainers on Germany's blue-chip DAX index .GDAXI, which was up 0.4 percent.

In recent months, Commerzbank has been implementing a restructuring program, focusing on digitizing its back office, cutting staff, and growing its retail customer base.

The bank has warned that it would post a loss in the second quarter after market weakness and restructuring costs. It is scheduled to report earnings on Aug. 2.

Reporting by Tom Sims, Alexander Huebner, Gernot Heller; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Adrian Croft

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