Bankers Trust Corp. shares took wing Tuesday on speculation that the company is the latest possible acquisition target of the German banking behemoth Deutsche Bank.
Bankers Trust's shares soared by as much as 15% before slipping back as investors became skeptical about an imminent deal. The stock ended up $4.1875, to $58.9375, on a day when most other bank stocks also rallied strongly.
Rumors about Deutsche Bank's efforts to buy either a U.S. investment bank or a commercial bank with strong investment banking capabilities are not new.
Just before the summer downturn in the market, the German bank was whispered to have approached J.P. Morgan & Co., Lehman Brothers Inc., and Hambrecht & Quist Group at different times.
Reports that Deutsche Bank and Bankers Trust were in early talks was first noted Tuesday by the Financial Times in London.
Bank analysts on both sides of the Atlantic acknowledged that a pairing between the two companies could happen - but not soon.
Bankers Trust appears attractive as a target because of its U.S investment banking arm, Alex. Brown, and its sizable assets under management from its custody and mutual funds business.
A combination of the U.S. and German companies could bring significant expense savings and boost Bankers Trust's sagging credit rating, which has raised its cost of funds, observers pointed out.
Bankers Trust is also a bargain right now. The company lost more than 41.7% of its share price in the last three months, while Deutsche Bank has lost 21.7% in the same period.
But the obstacles to any such deal are formidable.
London-based German bank analyst Mark Hoge of Credit Suisse First Boston said he could not envision a "worse combination" than Deutsche Bank and Bankers Trust.
"To know the history of Deutsche Bank is to know why this is a bad idea," said Mr. Hoge, referring to the German bank's troubles in investment banking.
Deutsche Bank is a "massive value destroyer and it is getting worse because management is not willing to cut investment banking loose," the analyst said.
Mr. Hoge did not dispute that acquiring Bankers Trust would help Deutsche Bank, but emphasized that the move "would just be improving the situation, not solving the problem."
Buying Banker's Trust would also not put Deutsche Bank into the top tier of investment banking, Mr. Hoge pointed out, adding: "If you are not No. 3 or No. 4 in the States, you have a major problem."