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Deutsche Bank chief calls for mergers in Europe

Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan
Daniel Roland | AFP | Getty Images

The head of Deutsche Bank made a rare public call on Wednesday for cross-border mergers in Europe, weeks after Germany's flagship lender scraped through regional stress tests. 

John Cryan's remarks will likely spur further discussion about the future of the struggling bank, although he was quick to throw cold water on reports that Deutsche examined a merger with Commerzbank — which is partly owned by the German state.

Shares of Deutsche Bank were briefly more than 3.5 percent higher in New York trade, while Commerzbank shares traded nearly 4 percent higher in Frankfurt. The STOXX Europe 600 Banks index traded more than 2 percent higher. 

Deutsche Bank 10-year performance

Source: FactSet

It's a "risk-on day today in the markets and maybe the Commerzbank story adding a bit of an interest," Macquarie analyst Piers Brown told CNBC. 

Criticizing what he called the "scattered regionalism among banks," Cryan said: "We need more mergers, at a national level, but even also across national borders."

Asked if he sees the time coming back when Deutsche will engage in large takeovers, he said "not any time soon."

Macquarie's Brown said the likelihood of Deutsche merger was low, although "it's a little odd for (Cryan) to say consolidation needs to happen, but on the other hand we're not going to be the catalyst."

Profits across Europe's banks have been generally sinking, as economic growth remains at a low ebb, interest rates stay at rock bottom and the task of sifting through billions of euros of risky loans continues.

German banks, in particular, have struggled as the European Central Bank prints ever more fresh money and makes it more expensive for lenders to hoard cash.

"If we look at Germany in particular, it hasn't gone through that wave of consolidation like Spain has, Italy seems to be moving in that direction and France has been through it," Cryan said. "In Germany there are in my view just too many banks." 

But he also singled out the ECB for criticism. "The side effects of these policies are now becoming more and more apparent."

"It's not only the banks that suffer. There are also disastrous consequences for savers and their pension investments."

At the end of last month, Deutsche was shown to be weaker than many of its peers in European Union stress tests that ranked it tenth from the bottom of 51 lenders.