By Inti Landauro
PARIS (Reuters) - France's largest asset manager Amundi is exploring a deal to merge its operations with Deutsche Bank's listed asset manager DWS but only if it can take control, a source familiar with Amundi's strategy said.
The idea of merging DWS with a peer emerged in recent months as Deutsche Bank discussed a possible merger with smaller rival Commerzbank, although those talks have since ended in failure.
"Amundi would not necessarily buy all [of DWS] and would be ready to leave a stake of DWS listed on the stock market, but there is no point in being a minority partner," the source said.
Deutsche Bank declined to comment.
However, several sources familiar with Deutsche Bank's plans told Reuters that the German lender is unwilling to sell a controlling stake in DWS.
A partial sale of DWS would have helped Deutsche Bank finance its proposed merger with Commerzbank, but now that those talks have collapsed, the urgency to do an asset management deal has fizzled out.
Amundi, controlled by French bank Credit Agricole, oversees funds worth 1.48 trillion euros (£1.30 trillion).
It sees itself as a consolidator but is not interested in playing the part of a junior partner in any deal, several banking sources said.
The French asset manager has grown through sizeable deals in the past, including the purchase of UniCredit's asset management unit Pioneer Investments, which it bought for 3.6 billion euros in 2016.
A second source close to Amundi said that the company was talking to investment banks to examine a possible tie-up with DWS, though he declined to name any.
"We constantly receive pitches from investment banks," the first source said.
Wall Street bank JPMorgan has a close relationship with Amundi, several sources said, adding it is in the lead to land an advisory role on DWS.
DWS's Chief Executive Asoka Woehrmann has said he wants to actively participate in consolidation in the asset management industry.
Recent negotiations between Deutsche Bank and UBS on a tie-up of their respective asset management businesses stalled after the two banks could not agree on which of them would have controlled the combined entity.
German insurer Allianz, the largest in Europe, has also been eyeing a potential transaction between its investment unit and DWS, people familiar with the matter have said, but those talks have also been put on the backburner.
(Additional reporting by Tom Sims, Arno Schuetze and Pamela Barbaglia; editing by Jason Neely and Susan Fenton)