Germany pushes ahead with nationalisation law

BERLIN - Germany is making progress on plans to extend its banking rescue package and the cabinet will next Wednesday discuss a draft law to allow the nationalisation of Hypo Real Estate, a government spokesman said on Friday.

By (Reuters)

Published: Fri 13 Feb 2009, 8:15 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 10:21 PM

The government aims to enable German banks to move toxic assets off their books by establishing “bad banks” and open the way to a government takeover of stricken lender Hypo.

Chancellor Angela Merkel was meeting top ministers during Friday to attempt to make further headway on the plans before trying to finalise the details next week.

The government is trying to work out how to help Hypo which was last year rescued by a bank and government consortium with 50 billion euros of credit plus state guarantees. Earlier this month it said it was taking a further 10 billion euros in guarantees from Germany’s existing bank rescue fund.

Conservative Merkel, who shares power with the Social Democrats has stressed that nationalisation is a last resort.

“We are making good progress ... there is agreement on many issues,” said government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm at a regular news conference.

One major problem, however, is U.S. investor J.C. Flowers which controls close to 24 percent of Hypo. It bought its stake for 22.50 euros per share but they are now worth only about 1.25 euros each.

German government officials have been talking to J.C. Flowers but so far there have been no results, said a Finance Ministry spokesman. J.C. Flowers said it did not name a price for its shares in its talks with the government.

“There was no discussion at all about a price, in the event that we would sell our shares,” said a spokesman for Flowers.

Hypo will publish its 2008 results at the end of next month and analysts expect losses at the bank to be so high that the bank might need fresh capital.

A senior parliamentarian has told Reuters that Hypo will try to organise an extraordinary shareholders meeting soon where it will try to push through a capital hike which only the government participates in.

The government is also working out how best to deal with banks’ bad assets. It has ruled out a central bad bank but is set to lay the foundations for the introduction of individual “bad banks” next week.

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