FRANKFURT / LONDON (More Bank) – German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Friday he was talking to the country's banks about their future, calling "speculation" recurring reports of a merger between Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank.

Earlier in the day, the WirtschaftsWoche magazine reported that the government wanted a rapprochement between the two leading German banks before the European elections scheduled for late May.

Olaf Scholz said he did not understand the link that has been made between these elections and the evolution of the banking sector.

"The truth is that we are discussing the situation of the financial industry in Germany, it is the role of our government (…)", continued Olaf Scholz.

"These two banks, they are doing what they can to generate sufficient profits.We discuss with them the situation of the banking sector in Germany," he said, adding that the country needed a system stable bank to support German companies that want to export.

"It is important to have a strong banking sector with national champions who have the capacity for action," said Olaf Scholz, who noted in passing that there was "no discussion" about setting up a defeasance structure ("bad bank") supposed to hold bad debts of banks.

The quarterly results published a week ago by Deusche Bank showed that the group still had a long way to go to find a path to sustainable profitability, even though the year 2018 ended with a first profit in four years.

Sources said at the end of January that the first German bank had little time left to try to revive its activities as an independent entity, saying that it made the possibility of a merger with Commerzbank more likely. must publish its 2018 accounts on February 14th.

Around 1010 GMT, the Deutsche Bank share lost 0.92% while Commerzbank shares took 1.67%, one of the largest increases in an index of European banking stocks changed little.

(Andreas Rinke, Andreas Framke and Hans Seidenstuecker in Berlin, Marc Jones and Huw Jones in London, Benoit Van Overstraeten for French Service, edited by Jean-Michel Bélot)