(Reuters) Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank increasingly open to merger: Spiegel

(Reuters) Executives of Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) and Commerzbank (CBKG.DE) are increasingly open to the idea of a merger of Germany’s two largest banks, magazine Der Spiegel reported on Tuesday.

It cited one person as saying that Commerzbank Chief Executive Martin Zielke “would rather do it today than tomorrow”, but that new Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing had said internally a merger was not on the agenda in the next 18 months.

It added that Finance Minister Olaf Scholz could also imagine a deal to combine the two lenders.

“We do not comment on banks’ strategic decisions,” a spokeswoman for the German Finance Ministry said. The German government still owns a 15 percent stake in Commerzbank after bailing it out during the financial crisis.

Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank both declined to comment.

The news sent shares in Commerzbank as much as 4 percent higher to a four-week high at 8.74 euros.

Shares in Deutsche Bank were 0.8 percent higher at 9.66 euros by 1418 GMT, outperforming a 0.5 percent slide by Germany’s blue-chip DAX index .GDAXI.

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Deutsche Bank, which has bought German peers Postbank and Sal. Oppenheim over the last decade, also held talks with Commerzbank over a potential merger in 2016.

At the time, the two lenders shelved the project as they wanted to complete their restructuring efforts before taking any steps in the direction of a merger.