HSBC Germany in talks with WestLB

HSBC’S German private banking arm is in talks to buy a large part of WestLB, the nationalised German lender.

Andreas Schmitz, chairman of HSBC Trinkaus & Burkhardt Rothschild, has said that the bank is “in talks” to buy a chunk of the German bank. He did not confirm which unit HSBC is looking at, but it is thought to be the structured finance and corporate customers business.

However, the German government might not want to sell off its stake in WestLB in parts and might instead think that it can get better value by selling the bank as a whole.

Analysts had mixed views on the deal. Investec’s Gareth Hunt said: “Acquisition of a European corporate book makes strategic sense provided the price is right.”

But he added: “That said, we would very much like to see announcements of rationalisations and/or closures alongside announcements of acquisitions.”

Many analysts were disappointed by HSBC’s recent strategic review, in which it announced moves to sell off large parts of its North American business, estimated at a value of $25bn, but did not go further and name other assets that it will sell to slim down the business.

Chief executive Stuart Gulliver has promised a “series of announcements” on disposals as deals are confirmed.