Deutsche Bank came under increased pressure on Thursday to move forward on a tie-up with Commerzbank after Italy's UniCredit was named as a potential alternative bidder for the German lender.
UniCredit could explore a merger with Commerzbank if talks with Deutsche fall through, two people with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday.
The people said UniCredit would not crash the talks on a tie-up between Germany's two largest banks and UniCredit's focus for now was on its turnaround plan.
Deutsche and Commerzbank announced talks on March 17 and two people with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday they were proceeding well but “very carefully”.
UniCredit's interest may now spur an acceleration.
Deutsche Bank's exploratory discussions with state-backed Commerzbank come after prodding by Germany's finance ministry, which is worried about the future of the country's biggest bank.
But a potential merger between the two has met stiff resistance from labor unions fearing jobs cuts, and some major investors.
Lawmakers are also warning Germany's finance minister they will block any attempt to invest public money in a merged Deutsche and Commerzbank, a deal which could require up to 10 billion euros ($11.2 billion) of fresh capital.
Deutsche and Commerzbank have been divided over the pace of their talks, two people with knowledge of the matter said. Commerzbank would like to see a speedy decision on whether to deepen the discussions, while Deutsche Bank is playing for time.
A deal would see Berlin become a shareholder in the combined group, which one German official said will need an injection of fresh capital because of restructuring costs and the fact that losses on investments could be triggered by a tie-up.