Berlin/Frankfurt — Deutsche Bank is open to a merger once the lender has boosted its profitability over the next 18 months, CEO Christian Sewing said. "We have a very clear plan to remain a global bank, but we have to work on profitability now," he said on Monday at an event in Berlin. "If that happens, we can talk about other things," Sewing said about a possible deal with Commerzbank. Italy’s Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper said on Tuesday the bank may study a large capital increase for such a deal, without citing anybody. A spokesman for the bank declined to comment. Combining Germany’s two largest banks has won the backing of government officials who are keen on creating a financial heavyweight to support the country’s exporters before a downturn strikes. But with both lenders struggling to show they can grow profitably, a merger would not  come without issues. Deutsche Bank chair Paul Achleitner has also discussed the option with German officials, though the lender is wary of a deal b...

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