May 13, 2019 / 2:59 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-German deputy finance minister sees no place for state bank guarantees

(Adds Kukies quotes, Commerzbank supervisory board member)

BERLIN, May 13 (Reuters) - Germany should not provide a state guarantee to protect any of its banks, the country's deputy finance minister Joerg Kukies said on Monday, following the failure last month of merger talks between Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank.

Kukies also warned against creating a national banking champion which he said could lead to a regulatory race to the bottom, adding that he had not been behind the attempted tie-up between Germany's two biggest banks.

"The solution is not the creation of national champions," former Goldman Sachs banker Kukies told a panel discussion in Berlin's Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, organised by anti-capitalist opposition party Die Linke.

The most important task for policymakers was to complete the European Union's banking union and further harmonise regulation of the financial sector, he added.

Asked to comment on media reports that he was the "mastermind" behind the Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank merger talks, Kukies said: "It's simply not true ... there has been no pressure or attempts of influence from our side."

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Kukies were widely reported to be supportive of a merger between Deutsche and Commerzbank, in which the German government still owns 15.6 percent after a bailout a decade ago.

Kukies said it was nonetheless important that a large, export-reliant economy such as Germany should have at least one big national lender. "The question of the location of the headquarters is not completely irrelevant," Kukies said.

Asked if this meant that the German government would block a takeover of Commerzbank by a bigger buyer from abroad, Kukies said that he would not comment on any particular bank.

However, Commerzbank supervisory board member Stefan Wittmann, representing labour union Verdi, signalled strong resistance to any takeover attempt from an Italian bank.

Wittmann told the same panel that there would be "a lot of blood" before any such scenario materialised, saying there had been negative consequences from the takeover of German lender HVB by Italy's UniCredit.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber Editing by Tassilo Hummel and Alexander Smith

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