The head of Germany’s biggest bank, Deutsche Bank, is conducting talks over a 50-percent write-down of Greek debt in his capacity as chairman of the global banking lobby, a newspaper reported Sunday.
Citing both government and banking sources, the mass circulation Bild said that Josef Ackermann was participating in negotiations on a voluntary “haircut” on Greek debt that could be as high as 50 percent.
Ackermann is chairman of the board of directors of the Institute of International Finance ( IIF), which represents more than 400 of the world’s leading financial institutions.
A Deutsche Bank spokesman declined to comment on the report, which was due to appear in Monday’s edition of the paper. The finance ministry was not immediately available for a reaction.
Bild added that the chances of arriving at a voluntary agreement by the end of the week were “very questionable.”
European Union leaders are gathering next Sunday in Brussels and hope to present a comprehensive solution to the eurozone debt crisis that threatens to tip the 17-nation zone — and the rest of the world — into recession.
It is widely expected that leaders will announce that private investors will have to accept a greater loss — or “haircut — on their holdings of Greek debt. Speculation has focused on a 50 or even 60 percent write-down.
To prevent these heavier losses from prompting a bank crisis, EU leaders are also thought to be looking at ways to recapitalise the main lenders.
Ackermann spoke out on Thursday against a “forced” recapitalisation of banks, saying the debate was “counterproductive” because most banks had beefed up their capital resources on their own already.
And simply pumping more cash into the banks would not tackle the root of Europe’s problems, Ackermann argued.
The head of the eurozone finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, however has insisted that cash must be pumped into banks “to ensure that there is no danger of contagion for the entire banking system.”