Chief of Credit Agricole expresses interest in Commerzbank: report

Philippe Brassac, Chief Executive Officer of Credit Agricole S.A., poses prior to a press conference in Paris, France, March 8, 2016. Picture taken March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Credit Agricole's CAGR.PA chief, Philippe Brassac, has expressed interest in Commerzbank CBKG.DE if the German lender were to be up for sale, according to an interview with the Handelsblatt newspaper.

Brassac was quoted as saying that he would like the French bank to be better positioned in Germany, as it is in Italy.

Credit Agricole’s strategy plan states that it will focus on organic growth until 2019. “But this doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t take a look at interesting possibilities,” Brassac said in the interview published on Sunday.

“If such a big institute like Commerzbank were really to be on the market, we would surely have to analyse it as one of the significant institutes in the euro zone,” he said.

There has been speculation that the German government could sell its roughly 15 percent stake in Commerzbank, making the lender a takeover target.

Italy's UniCredit CRDI.MI has told Berlin it was interested in eventually merging with Commerzbank, two people familiar with the matter said last month, a combination that would create one of Europe's biggest banks.

The German government has denied a report that it favoured a merger of Commerzbank with France's BNP Paribas BNPP.PA.

Reporting by Tom Sims; Editing by Alison Williams