German lender Commerzbank has completed an agreement with activist investor Petrus Advisers to grow its stake in online lending FinTech Comdirect as it attempts to take over the company and reduce its costs, according to a report by the Financial Times.
The takeover is a big part of Commerzbank’s plans to restructure itself, a plan that was announced in September by head Martin Zielke. The strategy enables a rapid delisting and a quick integration of the company’s internet-only offerings.
“With the increase of our Comdirect stake, we have laid the basis for a swift merger of Comdirect into Commerzbank,” Zielke said. He said it was “an important step to quickly and efficiently execute the integration of [Comdirect] and realize significant synergies.”
Zielke is hoping to cut about €150 million in annual costs through the integration of 2.7 million new customers.
The bank’s stake in Comdirect has exceeded 90 percent following the purchase of the Petrus shares. Petrus said at the end of last year that it had a 7.5 percent in Comdirect, whereas Commerzbank previously had about an 82 percent stake in the company.
Comdirect closed at €13.28 a share on Thursday (Jan. 2), and an 8 percent stake in Comdirect was worth about €150m.
The issue is not without contention, and a number of minority shareholders may ask for compensation over the delisting move. The amount of compensation will be determined by external auditors and can be challenged in a court of law.
Currently, Comdirect shares are worth about 16 percent more than the €11.44 that Commerzbank offered, which was rejected by the minority shareholders last month. At that time, Petrus Advisers said the Commerzbank offer “does not reflect the fair value of Comdirect on a standalone basis.” The minority shareholders denied the takeover and Commerzbank moved to a different legal procedure to complete it, in which minority shareholders would receive shares instead of cash.