Dresdner hunts for acquisitions

GERMANY'S Dresdner Bank said yesterday it was "on the way" to making acquisitions, adding that the consolidation taking place in France and Italy was creating opportunities that had not existed before.

Bernhard Walter, management board chairman, said yesterday: "We've moved out of the phase of examining and analysing. I don't want to say more than that." He added: "We are thinking about concrete acquisitions, whatever form that might take."

The bank reported profits down by 7 per cent to DM2.6bn (pounds 900m) because of sharply higher bad loan provisions. It is to boost its warchest with a DM2.8bn issue of fixed-income stock next month.

The bank is also pushing ahead with plans to list in New York, although it has postponed the listing from this year to next.

Mr Walter said the bank was "not enraptured" by the results, but this year had begun well with trading income up 128 per cent in the first two months.

Dresdner was among European banks badly hit by the emerging markets collapse and exposure to Long-Term Capital Management, the hedge fund.

However the bank, which owns Kleinwort Benson, the UK merchant bank, has made little secret of its desire to expand in North America, where it has been linked with PaineWebber, and in Europe.