Berlin — Germany's two biggest lenders, the ailing Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, say they will launch formal talks toward a possible merger that could create a “national champion” in financial services. Chancellor Angel Merkel's government has been urging the two Frankfurt firms to explore a cross-town merger to avoid either being swallowed up by a foreign competitor and to create a muscular player that can finance Germany's export-driven companies. The lenders, both grappling with painful restructuring after years of falling profits, have long been the subject of merger rumours. Deutsche Bank said on Sunday it was “reviewing strategic options and confirms discussions with Commerzbank”, adding that “there is no certainty that any transaction will occur”. Commerzbank said both banks had “agreed today to start discussions with an open outcome on a potential merger”. If they did tie the knot, they would create a European banking behemoth with about €1.8-trillion in assets, close to Fr...

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