GERMANY: Deutsche Bank sells last Daimler holding

By just-auto.com editorial team | 29 October 2009

Deutsche Bank has sold its remaining stake in Daimler in one of the final steps towards unwinding 'Germany Inc', a once powerful system of cross-shareholdings in Europe's largest economy.

The bank said it made a gain of EUR110m (US$163.2m) from divesting the Daimler shares in the third quarter, Reuters reported.

Around 60 of Germany's 100 biggest companies belonged to the shareholding network, established to help protect German companies from foreign takeover and provide support in the event of large-scale bankruptcies. At its centre was Deutsche, Germany's largest bank, and insurer Allianz.

The bank has gradually reduced its Daimler stake over the past couple of years and had already sold its holdings in Allianz and industrial gas producer Linde.

Reuters noted that as banks helped big industrial companies going public, they often ended up with some of the shares in their own portfolio, translating into board seats and guaranteeing the status of 'most favoured bank' - otherwise referred to as the 'Hausbank' [house bank].

This allowed Deutsche Bank to influence changes in corporate Germany while also looking after the country's interests, providing loans to large German corporations under favourable conditions if they helped Germany gain a competitive advantage.

'Germany Inc' began to break down in the late 1990s when Deutsche took the decision to focus on its core banking business and began to unwind the stakes. The sell off was also fuelled by the introduction of the euro and new tax rules that allowed German firms to divest assets at favourable conditions.