Bloomberg News

FRANKFURT - Dresdner Bank AG and rival Commerzbank AG, under shareholder pressure to boost returns, are in talks about a merger, people familiar with the companies said.

The deal, which would be valued at about $19 billion, would create Europe's second-biggest bank, with about $730 billion of assets, trailing Deutsche Bank, with about $800 billion.

The combined bank would have eight million customers; Deutsche Bank has seven million.

Dresdner is German's No. 3 bank, and Commerzbank ranks fifth.

Dresdner scuttled its sale to Deutsche Bank AG two months ago, and Cobra, a fund run by a former Dresdner executive, bought 17% of Commerzbank.

Dresdner and Commerzbank are too small to survive on their own as rivals in Europe combine, analysts said.

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