Cerberus [CBS.UL] has taken a 3 percent stake in Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE), Germany’s flagship lender said on Wednesday, making the U.S. buyout fund the fourth-largest shareholder after China’s HNA group, Qatar and money manager Blackrock (BLK.N).
The move comes after the investor built a 5 percent stake in Germany’s second-largest listed bank, Commerzbank (CBKG.DE), in July.
“We have a constructive view of European fundamentals and believe Germany is a highly attractive place to invest, in particular,” a Cerberus spokesman said, adding it saw long-term opportunities in retail and corporate banking due to Germany’s robust economy and high savings rate.
He declined to comment on the investment in Deutsche Bank.
Shares in Deutsche Bank recouped losses made earlier in the day to trade nearly 1 percent higher at 1251 GMT.
“This has fueled the fantasy of a merger between Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, which came up months ago,” said a trader. “I can understand this speculation because Cerberus wouldn’t buy into German banks without reason.”
In 2016, top executives of Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank held talks on a potential combination, but shelved the project to complete their restructurings before taking steps towards any merger, a person close to the matter said at the time.
Commerzbank would not comment on Cerberus.
Speculation that a new shareholder would emerge heightened after Deutsche Bank disclosed on Tuesday that Morgan Stanley (MS.N) had acquired a significant holding in voting rights linked to financial instruments.
It remains unclear whether the Cerberus and Morgan Stanley disclosures are linked.
Morgan Stanley holds 6.86 percent of voting rights in the German lender, with the vast majority of those rights through instruments, Deutsche Bank said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday.
Instruments include call options, rights of recall over securities lending agreements, equity swaps and put options.
Morgan Stanley previously held 0.47 percent of voting rights in shares.
German law require disclosure when stakes exceed the 3 percent and 5 percent level.
The Morgan Stanley threshold was crossed on Nov. 6, while the Cerberus threshold was reached on Nov. 14.
Morgan Stanley in Frankfurt declined to comment.