July 11, 2020 / 11:31 AM / a month ago

Germany could take further public stakes in companies: minister

FILE PHOTO: German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier speaks during a news conference with state secretary at the economic ministry Ulrich Nussbaum, investor Dietmar Hopp, on the screen left, and CureVac Acting CEO Franz-Werner Haas, on the screen right, at the economy ministry, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Berlin, Monday, June 15, 2020. Markus Schreiber/Pool via REUTERS

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will take further stakes in companies threatened by the coronavirus crisis, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said, adding that “probably a few dozen” firms might follow airline group Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) in passing into partial state ownership.

Shareholders backed a 9 billion euro government bailout last month, securing the future of Germany’s flagship carrier after it was brought to the brink of collapse by the travel slump caused by the pandemic.

In an interview with Saturday’s Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, Altmaier said: “We’re talking about perhaps a few dozen cases. In these very limited number of cases we will use the possibilities offered by the economic stabilisation fund, including taking a stake where appropriate.”

It was also possible that the state would buy into other strategically important companies, like vaccine maker CureVac, in that case fending off an attempt by the United States government to buy it.

“I’ve always made it clear that state stakes must be an absolute exception,” he added.

On the airline group, which this week announced plans to cut 20% of its leadership positions and 1,000 administrative jobs, Altmaier said the government would not stand in the way of lay-offs.

Turning to another major company in which Germany holds a large stake, Altmaier said a decision on the 15% stake in Commerzbank it took to ward off its collapse during the financial crisis would be made next year.

Reporting by Sabine Ehrhardt, writing by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Christina Fincher

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