Commerzbank may not be your first pick if you’re looking to expand in European banking. Bailed out by the government in 2009, it’s still struggling to make money in Germany’s notoriously cut-throat consumer market.
Yet the Frankfurt-based company, weighed down by bad shipping loans and in the process of cutting thousands of jobs, is suddenly attracting suitors from across Europe and beyond.
Bloomberg News reports that UniCredit and BNP Paribas are said to have been in touch with the German government to indicate interest in the bank. Cerberus Capital disclosed owning a 5% stake in July, making the U.S. buyout firm the second-biggest shareholder.
Their attention helped fuel a 55% gain in the stock this year, third-best among European lenders, and shows how, after years of restructuring and regulatory reform in the aftermath of the financial crisis, European lenders are beginning to consider acquisitions again to grow. Commerzbank is a potential target for firms including BNP, UniCredit as well as other lenders such as Nordea Bank, according to people familiar with the deliberations.
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