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NordLB stake sale sparks merger talks among German public sector banks - sources

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By Arno Schuetze and Hans Seidenstuecker

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The planned sale of a stake in Germany’s NordLB has sparked renewed merger talks among the country’s public sector banks after earlier attempts to join forces failed, people close to the matter said.

A potential deal between NordLB and peer Helaba could herald further consolidation among the likes of LBBW, Deka and Berlin Hyp as well as Helaba and NordLB, the people said, adding talks were at a preliminary stage and the outcome was uncertain.

In the past, plans to merge some of the so-called Landesbanken never got off the ground as it proved impossible to align the interests of the different German regional states and municipal savings bank organisations that own them.

The DSGV, an umbrella organisation for the country’s savings banks and Landesbanken, said on Wednesday it was considering options for the future of the group.

The banks declined to comment.

NordLB, which aims to boost its capital by about 3 billion euros ($3.5 billion) to cope with ship loans that have turned bad, has asked for final bids for a stake in the bank by the end of November.

U.S.-based credit manager Christofferson, Robb & Company has emerged as the sixth suitor for a stake in the ailing public-sector bank, according to people close to the matter.

The other five are Commerzbank, Helaba, Apollo, Cerberus and Advent, people close to the matter said earlier this week.

NordLB declined to comment, while Christofferson, Robb & Company was not immediately available for comment.

The merger talks between the Landesbanken were earlier reported by newspaper Handelsblatt.

(Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Hans Seidenstücker; Editing by Alexandra Hudson, Douglas Busvine and Mark Potter)

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