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from Margaret Doyle:

Deutsche deal shows Oppenheim weakness

How are the mighty fallen! Sal Oppenheim may be have been banker to Germany's elite for 220 years. However, a few rash investments over the past couple of them appear to have forced it into the hands of Deutsche Bank, the 800 pound gorilla of German banking. However, Oppenheim's clients may be less than delighted at the change of ownership.

The two admitted to being in talks enabling Deutsche to acquire a minority stake on Wednesday, though sources suggest that this could lead to a majority holding.

Oppenheim likes to boast that it is Europe's biggest 100 percent independent private bank. It rejected the idea that it might need a boost in capital from the state just a few weeks ago as its financial woes mounted. The private bank -- headquartered in Luxembourg since 2007 -- made its first loss since the World War Two (of 117 million euros) in 2008 on the back of a few spectacularly badly chosen deals. It invested in IKB, the subprime casualty, Arcandor, Germany's largest post-war insolvency, and Continental,  the tyremaker which was taken over by Schaeffler the ball-bearings maker in 2008, in an expensive and ill-timed deal.

The bank's owners -- some 40 or so shareholders from the Ullmann, Oppenheim and Pferdemenges families -- had to plug in 200 million euros last December to shore up its capital base. Partners at the private bank include aristocrats like Baron Christopher von Oppenheim and Count Matthias von Krockow.

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