Germany's Dresdner Bank AG will continue to develop its operations in this country but has no plan to follow the lead of other European banks and buy a U.S. securities firm, the bank's top U.S. executive said.
"We're strategically observing events in this market, but there is absolutely nothing in the works at this time," said George Fugelsang, head of Dresdner's North American operations.
Mr. Fugelsang emphasized that Dresdner's current objective is to build a complete range of corporate- and capital markets-related operations from within.
"The general direction is to strengthen our financial services capabilities across the board in North America," Mr. Fugelsang said.
Dresdner has been expanding in the United States for several years, and it bought RCM Capital Management, a San Francisco asset management company, just over 18 months ago.
However, speculation has been mounting that Dresdner was planning to follow Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Swiss Bank Corp. in acquiring a U.S. investment bank.
The speculation arose after Dresdner announced last month that it was planning to issue more than $1 billion of fresh equity. Dresdner chairman Juergen Sarrazin indicated at the time that the bank planned to use a substantial portion of the new capital to expand in the United States.
Mr. Fugelsang said the equity issue will mainly bolster Dresdner's Tier 1 capital, which is slightly below that of some of its big European rivals.
"We were of the view that the share price had responded nicely and that this was a good time to issue equity," he said.
He added that Dresdner plans for the moment to content itself with additional hirings in the United States in order to bolster its corporate finance and investment banking operations. The bank recently hired a team to build an equity-related business.
Mr. Fugelsang added that Dresdner's buildup is part of a broader effort to cut costs at home and expand international operations.
"There is a disproportionate effort outside of Germany, which really relates to the relative concentration of the total business within Germany," he said. "The idea is to get a better balance and distribution around the world."
Analysts said they saw little reason to question Dresdner's strategy.
"It looks very much like an opportunistic capital-raising exercise," said Piers Brown, a banking analyst at UBS Ltd. in London.
Given current high prices for U.S. acquisitions, he added, "I don't think an acquisition is an immediate possibility."
Yet given the limited opportunities for expanding in Germany, Mr. Brown added, it is logical for Dresdner, along with other big German banks like Deutsche Bank AG, to build international activities instead.
"Any expansion will most likely come in asset management or the investment banking side," Mr. Brown predicted.