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Germany seeks advice on Commerzbank strategy as it weighs options for 15% stake


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Germany seeks advice on Commerzbank strategy as it weighs options for 15% stake

The German government is looking for external advisers to review the strategy and business model of Commerzbank AG, according to an Aug. 4 filing with the German Procurement Portal.

The state is still the largest shareholder in Germany's second-largest private lender with a stake of 15.6%, part of the 25% it acquired as part of an €18.2 billion bailout in late 2008. In the filing, made by the Federal Finance Agency, the state requests an external assessment of the new strategic plan to be published by Commerzbank this autumn and an analysis of the group's business model, focusing on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks.

The goal of the review is to get advice on the future management of the Commerzbank shareholding. The government is also looking for advice on further organic and inorganic growth opportunities for the lender. The latter options could include joint ventures, partnerships, acquisitions by Commerzbank or sales of parts of the bank's business, according to the document.

The filing is expected to once again stir up speculation about a potential sale of the government's stake in Commerzbank just a few months after the failed merger talks between the lender and domestic player Deutsche Bank AG, according to Börsen-Zeitung, which first reported news of the filing Aug. 9.

Commerzbank has declined comment on the matter, while the Finance Agency said the outcome of the review is open-ended, according to the newspaper.

Previously, the government has said it would seek to sell the remaining Commerzbank stake at a value close to the original bailout value. The original value of the 15.6% stake stood at around €5 billion, while it is currently valued at €1 billion due to the deterioration of Commerzbank's market capitalization in recent years.

At closing time on the floor of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange on Aug. 9, Commerzbank's shares were worth €5.25 apiece, having dropped more than 98% since before the financial crisis.