Deutsche Bank AG submits purchase plan for EU review; Panel has until April 22 to decide on $10.1 billion takeover of Bankers Trust

THE BALTIMORE SUN

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Deutsche Bank AG submitted its planned $10.1 billion purchase of Bankers Trust Corp. for European Union review yesterday, a first step toward EU approval of a plan to form the world's biggest financial-services company.

The European Commission, the EU's executive agency, has until April 22 to decide whether the purchase would give Germany's biggest bank an excessive share of EU markets. EU regulators can extend their review by up to four more months if they identify serious antitrust concerns.

EU antitrust chief Karel Van Miert has waved through recent banking mergers -- including Travelers Group Inc.'s merger with Citicorp last year and Deutsche Bank's acquisition of Credit Lyonnais' Belgian unit last month -- and has said there is room for further consolidation in the EU banking industry.

Europe's biggest banks are bulking up to cope with increased competition. Deutsche Bank, which is expanding in the 10 European nations that adopted the euro along with Germany this year, already has the biggest presence of any foreign bank in Italy and Spain.

Deutsche Bank also needs approval from U.S. regulators before going ahead with the acquisition. It has said it expects to complete the transaction by April or May.

The commission can block or force changes to mergers between companies with combined global sales of 5 billion euros ($5.5 billion) and EU sales of 250 million euros each.

The 20-member commission, including Van Miert, resigned last week after an investigation found it guilty of widespread mismanagement. But the commissioners remain in office on a caretaker basis, and antitrust reviews are continuing as usual.

Pub Date: 3/25/99

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