Commerzbank Rises After Drawing Takeover Interest From ING

(Bloomberg) -- Commerzbank AG has been sounded out by ING Groep NV about a possible combination of the two lenders, according to a person familiar with the matter, as the German firm’s talks with domestic rival Deutsche Bank AG draw increasing criticism.

Commerzbank shares extended gains after Manager Magazin first reported the talks on Tuesday, citing people it didn’t identify. ING Chief Executive Officer Ralph Hamers has reached out to both the German government and his Commerzbank counterpart, Martin Zielke, in an effort to start discussions, that report said.

ING, the biggest Dutch bank, has a market value of almost 47 billion euros ($53 billion), almost five times Commerzbank’s 10 billion euros. Officials for ING, Commerzbank and the German Finance Ministry declined to comment.

Hamers pledged to cut fewer jobs than a Commerzbank-Deutsche Bank deal would require, Manager Magazin said. He also offered to move ING’s headquarters to Frankfurt from Amsterdam, the publication said.

A combination of the two German lenders could lead to the elimination of as many as 30,000 jobs, and the potential for such a deal has prompted fierce opposition from labor unions.

Shares of Commerzbank rose 3.1 percent in Frankfurt trading on Tuesday, while ING pared gains after the report.

Commerzbank, still partly owned by the government after a bailout, is attracting renewed interest from potential acquirers as the talks with Deutsche Bank run into mounting obstacles. Banks including BNP Paribas SA and UniCredit SpA have expressed their interest to the government in the past, people familiar with the matter have said. Italy’s UniCredit is preparing a takeover bid should a Deutsche Bank deal fall through, the Financial Times has reported.

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