January 24, 2019 / 8:04 AM / a month ago

CORRECTED-German finance ministry in talks with Commerzbank, Cerberus - FAZ

(Corrects to show that Cerberus owns a stake in HSH Nordbank not NordLB)

BERLIN, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Germany’s finance ministry held talks with representatives from Commerzbank and private equity firm Cerberus, one of the biggest shareholders in the country’s two leading banks, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on Thursday.

Citing a letter from a deputy finance minister to a member of Germany’s parliament in response to questions, the paper said Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and his deputy Joerg Kukies held a number of meetings in recent months.

Earlier this month, a finance ministry letter showed Germany’s finance ministry regularly met with top Deutsche Bank executives in 2018, fuelling speculation of merger talks with Commerzbank. But last week a source said German regulators did not think the two should merge.

Germany holds about 15 percent of Commerzbank.

The ministry’s letter did not disclose what was discussed at the meetings, the paper said.

Commerzbank declined to comment. The Finance Ministry could not immediately be reached for comment. Cerberus was not immediately available to comment.

The FAZ said the letter showed Scholz and Kukies held meetings with Commerzbank’s supervisory board chairman Stefan Schmittmann and chairman Martin Zielke.

Kukies also met with Cerberus Germany head David Knower as well as the buyout group’s CEOs Stephen Feinberg and Frank Bruno.

Cerberus also holds a stake in Germany’s HSH Nordbank.

Sources told Reuters in December that Cerberus and Centerbridge were the two final parties interested in a roughly 3.5 billion euro ($3.98 billion) capital injection into ailing public sector bank NordLB. (Reporting by Caroline Copley. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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