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Report: Commerzbank kicks off process for mBank exit

Commerzbank AG has begun sounding out potential buyers of its stake in mBank SA, kicking off a process that forms part of its new strategy.

Germany's second-largest bank by assets has tapped Goldman Sachs as an adviser on the potential deal, with JPMorgan advising mBank, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. A formal sale process is expected in the coming months, with one source saying informal talks are ongoing.

In late September, Commerzbank unveiled a new strategy that would see it invest heavily in digitization and cut jobs. It plans to off-load its 69.31% interest in mBank and use the proceeds to fund the measures under the plan. The stake is worth roughly $2.65 billion, according to the Oct. 11 report.

A key point in the mBank sale process is the large portfolio of Swiss franc-denominated mortgages it holds. Another bump in the road is a recent ruling of the EU Court of Justice allowing holders of such loans to convert them into Polish zlotys, potentially leading to big losses.

Despite this, mBank, the fourth biggest Polish bank, remains a "very attractive asset," a senior banking source told Reuters, adding that potential buyers could be identified toward 2019-end. Another source said there was interest from within and outside Poland.

Outgoing Commerzbank CFO Stephan Engels previously noted that a sale will unlikely happen in 2019 and that the actual process could take around two years.