DKB looks for deal this week with Dresdner

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Senior Dresdner Kleinwort Benson managers expect to win greater autonomy this week as their parent bank Dresdner braces itself for takeover bids in the wake of the collapse of its merger with rival Deutsche Bank.

A senior source at the investment banking arm DKB, which Deutsche tried to sell, told reporters he expected progress by Wednesday on calls for greater autonomy for the unit that yielded half of Dresdner's profits last year.

Industry analysts said effective autonomy for DKB would strengthen the bank's hand in future merger talks.

Bernhard Walter, the president and chief executive of Dresdner who quit last week,scrapped the 30bn euro merger after Deutsche caved in to demands by its head of investment banking Josef Ackermann, to sell the majority of DKB.

"If someone wants to take us over - and the possibility existed before our attempt to merge with Deutsche - then they'll have to pay our shareholders the usual premium," Mr Walter said this weekend. "That means 35 to 40 per cent above the current price."

When the deal was announced, Rolf Breuer, the president and chief executive of Deutsche, called DKB a jewel, promising not to close it down nor dispose of it.

Analysts say Dresdner is now a prime takeover target, particularly after the chief executive of its major shareholder Allianz, which pulls the strings through its 21.7 per cent stake, said the insurer was willing to consider offers.

But Allianz's boss Henning Schulte-Noelle declined to comment in a series of German media interviews on his preferred options, saying the group would seek a solution to benefit both parties. Allianz was to have been the main beneficiary of the merger with Deutsche, gaining both banks' branch retail operations.

Market speculation has thrown up a host of possible predator banks including Citigroup, Dutch groups ABN Amro and ING and Dresdner's French partner BNP.

Meanwhile, pressure is continuing to mount on Dr Breuer to follow Mr Walter and quit. Deutsche's supervisory board member, Gerhard Renner, told reporters over the weekend that Dr Breuer could no longer relay on unanimous backing from the board, or even from the Deutsche's chairman, Hilmar Kopper.

Mr Renner, who is also a senior figure in the white-collar DAG trade union, has called for a special board meeting in the next two weeks to discuss mounting calls for heads to roll.

German newspapers cited banking sources as saying Mr Kopper was unlikely to wait until the supervisory board's next regular meeting, due on 9 June, and would back an earlier date to push for Dr Breuer to quit. Dr Breuer's resignation was "only a matter of days away," one paper quoted a Deutsche source as saying.

Deutsche Bank said it had no knowledge of any plans for an extraordinary supervisory board meeting.

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