The German government is looking into the impact of a potential tie-up between Dutch financial services group ING and Germany’s Commerzbank, even though talks are not yet under way, business news agency Bloomberg has reported.
A merger between the two banks would be one option to create a European financial heavyweight, people familiar with the discussions told the agency.
Dutch finance minister Wopke Hoekstra and Germany’s deputy finance chief Joerg Kukies discussed the matter in Berlin in May, the sources said. Those discussions included Berlin’s wish to see any new bank headquartered in Germany, Bloomberg said.
Both banks have declined to comment.
The Financial Times said in April that ING chief executive Ralph Hamers had approached Commerzbank’s boss Martin Zielke, suggesting a cross-border merger with headquarters in Frankfurt but added no talks are currently ongoing.
The FT suggested Hamers might be open to such a move because of the strict Dutch rules on banking bonuses, which limit them to 20% of fixed pay.
Hamers, who came under fire last year after the supervisory board suggested giving him a 50% salary rise, told the FT earlier that ‘If you believe investment bankers, people working in financial markets, are incentivised by variable pay then . . . Amsterdam is not a natural place to expand.’
German business magazine Manager Magazin also put ING in the frame as a potential Commerzbank partner.
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