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HNA is said to be probed over Deutsche Bank stake reporting
[FRANKFURT] Deutsche Bank's largest shareholder is being probed in Germany over whether it accurately reported its holdings when building its stake, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
Financial supervisor BaFin is probing Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, which has a 9.9 per cent stake in Deutsche Bank, according to two people briefed on the matter who asked for anonymity in discussing non-public information.
"HNA's voting rights communications regarding Deutsche Bank were and are correct," a spokesman for HNA said in an emailed statement. A spokeswoman for BaFin declined to comment.
HNA first bought shares in Deutsche Bank, Germany's largest lender, in late 2016 and became the top investor after a capital increase in April. BaFin previously dropped a probe into allegations that HNA was coordinating its investment with Qatar's royal family, a person familiar with the matter said last month.
Deutsche Bank shares have risen 4.8 per cent this year, less than the 7.9 per cent gain for the 44-member Bloomberg Europe 500 Banks and Financial Services Index.
Some Wall Street banks have shied away from HNA this year amid a lack of clarity on its sources of funding and ownership structure, people familiar with the matter have said.
The Chinese investor may still face scrutiny by the European Central Bank, which has been considering a so-called owner control procedure against HNA, a person familiar with the matter has said previously.
Typically, the ECB would start the procedure once a shareholder's stake exceeds 10 per cent, but it can do so earlier if the investors are deemed to exert considerable influence.
Ownership control procedures are conducted to see if an investor in a bank is a reliable shareholder. That can be affected by several factors, such as their reputation and any involvement in illicit activities or their financial strength, should an institution require the support of its owners.
News of the probe by BaFin comes after the Swiss Takeover Board, in a separate case, said it found that HNA provided some false information and failed to disclose that company executives held the biggest stake in its takeover of Zurich-based Gategroup Holding. Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported the German probe earlier.