Merger of Deutscher Bank and Commerzbank: The Unloved Mega-Wedding
Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank talk about a merger - driven by the government. That's not good for the voters. The employee representatives want to vote for SPIEGEL information against it.
It could become the biggest German banking wedding ever, when Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank come together. From the two troubled financial institutions would emerge a new giant, which would rise with a balance sheet total of 1.8 trillion euros to the third largest bank in Europe - behind the British HSBC and the French BNP Paribas. A giant, to the taste of the Federal Government, which is now set to strengthen national champions in order to become more independent internationally in the age of protectionism.
It is not yet so far, so far there are only the first tentative talks between the leaders of the two companies. For a long time, Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing was skeptical about the merger. However, he has given the blessing for informal talks with Commerzbank CEO Martin Zielke. Next Thursday, the topic will be discussed on the supervisory boards of both companies. At the latest by Easter should then be clear, whether it can come to formal negotiations.
The fact that it has even come so far, on the one hand because of the miserable situation, especially the Deutsche Bank: It was once considered the largest bank in the world and now threatens to disappear into insignificance. On the other hand, the attitude of the federal government has changed - to the finance industry in general and to the idea of a national bank champion. Since the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz leads the Ministry of Finance and has brought the former Goldman-Sachs banker Jörg Kukies as Secretary of State, the policy is pushing for a possible merger - and has made possible the current discussions in the first place.
Scholz does not exactly follow the will of the voters. Because the looks differently according to a recent survey for the SPIEGEL. Accordingly, only about 25 percent of Germans believe that Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank should merge. 49.5 percent are against it (see graph). For the representative study, the polling institute Civey interviewed more than 5,000 people between 11 and 14 March.
If one looks at the party preferences of respondents, then it becomes clear that a merger of the banks among the voters of any party would have a majority. Most likely, the supporters of CDU / CSU and FDP could imagine a merger to Megabank. In the SPD, however, the party of Finance Minister Scholz, almost half of the supporters expressly against the merger.
Why so many people reject such a step is hard to say. But apparently the logic of the federal government to create a large national bank, so that German companies are not dependent on foreign institutions, many voters really.
There are enough reasons for this. For example, the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 has shown that policymakers need to rescue large banks at community expense when in doubt. Otherwise, it risks the collapse of the entire financial system.
"I think it's wrong to make an already too big bank even bigger," says Gerhard Schick, who was a long-time financial expert for the Greens in the Bundestag and has now founded the Bürgerwendiger Finanzwende. This would make the new institute even more "too big to fail" - too big to go broke if in doubt. "In the end, the German taxpayer will have to pay for it again," warns Schick.
Also for works councils and trade unionists, a merger is more of a horror idea than a reason to enjoy it. Finally, a merger threatens a large-scale job cuts. So far, the two banks have a total of more than 140,000 employees. It is estimated that up to 30,000 jobs would be threatened in a merger.
Accordingly, according to SPIEGEL information in the Deutsche Bank Supervisory Board, the employee representatives want to vote against the commencement of formal merger negotiations if the issue was to be dealt with at the meeting of the supervisory body next week. If the shareholder side of the Supervisory Board agrees completely to merger negotiations, Supervisory Board Chairman Paul Achleitner could bring about a decision with his double voting rights. Achleitner is considered a proponent of a merger.
The employee representatives of Commerzbank have also clearly opposed a merger. "The Ver.di-organized employee side in the Supervisory Board of Commerzbank will vote against the merger closed, if there is even a vote," says Uwe Tschäge, Chairman of the Group Works Council and Supervisory Board of Commerzbank. "So far, the Supervisory Board has not yet debated the topic of merger."
It seems as if corporate executives and finance ministers still have some convincing to do if they really want to push the merger. In the end, the shareholders would have to decide. And even there there is still a lot of skepticism among many large shareholders. Obviously, big business and the population agree on that.