German giant Siemens wants its own bank: finance director

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German industrial group Siemens has applied for a banking licence, it said on Monday, to ensure it has a safe place to park its pile of cash.

The sprawling conglomerate "aims to expand the product portfolio of its financial services unit, particularly in the sales finance area," it said in a statement.

The group has therefore applied for a banking licence with the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority, which is reviewing the application.

Finance director Joe Kaeser told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily that Siemens had learned lessons from the past in making its decision.

"In the current situation, we can be affected if banks have problems, with a legislative environment that is not totally transparent."

"Our liquidity now amounts to around nine billion euros (11 billion dollars), which means we really need to be able to make safe investments" that Siemens "could do by itself" via its own bank.

Siemens could thus place deposits directly with the German central bank, for example, he noted.

Kaeser expected German authorities to give their approval shortly.

But unlike other German groups like automakers BMW and Volkswagen, which offer banking services like savings accounts and customer credits, Siemens "does not want to do retail banking," the finance director said.

It did want to offer services to large industrial clients however, he added.

© 2010 AFP

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