Deka and Helaba are to conduct merger talks

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In The plan to form several banks and the fund company Deka as a leading institution for all 384 German savings banks, comes new movement. On Tuesday, the top representatives of the twelve regional savings banks associations Deka and Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen (Helaba) called for discussions to be held "to examine closer cooperation and a merger", as the German Sparkassen- und Giroverband (DSGV) just announced.

Hanno Mußler

This decision is a success for DSGV President Helmut Schleweis, who has been pursuing the goal of shaping Deka, the real estate bank Berlin Hyp and large Landesbanken such as LBBW, BayernLB, Nord LB and Helaba into a leading institution for all savings banks for more than a year. A merger of the two Frankfurt banks Deka and Helaba would be a first step. However, it is not clear whether the previous resistance to Schleweis's plan can be overcome.

The Sparkassenverband Baden-Württemberg, which owns 16.1 percent of the Sparkassenfondsgesellschaft Deka, blocked according to information provided by F.A.Z. Merging attempts with Helaba several times already. There are two main reasons for this: The Savings Banks of Baden-Württemberg do not want to strengthen a competitor of their Landesbank LBBW with Helaba. And they do not want to swap their stake in the rather profitable Deka for a bank fund company that is more exposed to the adversities of negative interest rates after a merger.

The decision taken on Tuesday by the heads of the Sparkassen Group to commence merger talks between Helaba and Deka is therefore openly formulated in the event of success as an invitation to LBBW, for example. According to information from the F.A.Z .: "Appropriate structures should enable further institutes of the group to participate immediately or later."

Schleweis' model for a savings bank central bank is apparently the DZ Bank of the Volksbanks and Raiffeisenbanks, which has emerged from several dozen regional cooperative central banks and to which the fund company Union Investment, the Bausparkasse Schwäbisch Hall and the R + V insurance belong. The savings bank group, on the other hand, is fragmented into twelve regions with four large Landesbanks. "In good times with decent profits, we could afford inefficiencies. Today, this is no longer possible, "Schleweis said in a conversation with F.A.Z. said.

In his view, the savings banks can only remain competitive if Landesbanks offer them services at a lower price, for example in payments and foreign trade. Schleweis's argument that a central savings bank can do this better than several Landesbanks is shared by many. Also, the management boards of Helaba and Deka will not shy away from the desire for merger talks. But whether in the end the owners of a merger agree is unclear.

This is not only due to the resistance of the Baden-Württemberg savings banks in the Deka. Even more complicated is the ownership structure of the Landesbanken, because they not only belong to regional savings banks associations, but also to federal states. In the case of Helaba, however, the state of Hesse (8 percent) and the Free State of Thuringia (5 percent) should support the plan to merge with Deka. Although then threatened high job losses, after all work most of the 6100 Helaba employees and 4800 Deka employees in Frankfurt.

The two bank headquarters are just a stone's throw away, with 3,300 employees working in Helaba headquarters alone. But it should also be clear to the state of Hesse that Helaba is meeting the ongoing low-interest phase and possibly soon increasing credit losses. The board has just announced a moderate job cuts. Through a merger with Deka, which lives on fund sales and associated fees, a less than Helaba dependent on interest income and thus more balanced financial institution would arise.

Helaba (t) LBBW (t) F.A.Z. (t) DSGV (t) Deutscher Sparkassen- und Giroverband (t) Norddeutsche Landesbank-Girozentrale (t) Frankfurter Institutes

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