Deutsche Bank expects to own Bankers Trust by 2nd quarter; CEO attends conference on fund to pay Nazi victims


FRANKFURT, Germany -- Deutsche Bank AG Chief Executive Officer Rolf Breuer said yesterday that he's confident the acquisition of Bankers Trust Corp. by Europe's second-largest bank will be completed this year.

Breuer made his comments after meeting with Jewish leaders and U.S. and German government officials in Washington to set an agenda for settling claims against most of Germany's top companies by victims of the Nazi era. The parties agreed to set up a compensation fund, financed by banks and industry.

Breuer says Deutsche Bank has "no signals that anyone is interfering with the process" of approving its $10.1 billion acquisition of Bankers Trust, parent of Baltimore's BT Alex. Brown. "We are confident it will be completed by the second quarter of this year."

Many of Germany's top companies, including DaimlerChrysler AG, Siemens AG and Dresdner Bank face lawsuits over their role in World War II. "The issue is weighing heavily on Deutsche Bank," said Birgit Gruener, an Austrian banking analyst.

Deutsche Bank, based in Frankfurt, Germany, is aiming to be part of a joint solution with all the German companies involved. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will get together Tuesday with leaders of the country's 17 largest companies, including Breuer, to discuss compensation.

A joint fund could simplify the process of compensating what may include as many as 1 million survivors of Nazi concentration camps, as well as millions of the victims' descendants.

Breuer also said he expects negotiators to reach a "basic agreement on the structure" of the compensation fund in three months, by which time discussions should also include financial issues. So far there haven't been any talks on the financial aspects, "not even behind closed doors," he said.

Breuer said a delay in the acquisition of Bankers Trust beyond the end of this year would be damaging, though this is only a "theoretical" possibility. The bank's shares closed unchanged yesterday at $54, having fallen 31.4 percent in the past six months.

Pub Date: 2/11/99

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