* European merger not a priority for Deutsche - Achleitner
* Says new bank capital rules threaten European lenders
* Confirms will seek new five-year term as chairman in May (Adds chairman’s comments on Europe-U.S. rivalry, nationalism and his re-election bid)
BERLIN, Jan 1 (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank Chairman Paul Achleitner has ruled out a European merger or a state bailout after the lender’s mortgage settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reported.
The bank, Germany’s biggest, last week announced a $7.2 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over its sale and pooling of mortgage securities in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.
“The management board in principle looks at everything that could help the business,” Achleitner said in an interview with the weekly newspaper published on Sunday.
“At the moment, however, enthusiasm for a pan-European merger is muted as we have other priorities,” he said, when asked why Deutsche does not merge with Italy’s UniCredit or another lender.
Deutsche, which is trying to simplify its operations to make it more efficient, will keep its investment banking operations and ensure they comply with political and regulatory rules, Achleitner said.
Supervisors including Germany’s Bundesbank and the European Central Bank have called for more consolidation in the banking sector, saying there are still too many banks despite a steady fall in the number of branches since the 2008 financial crisis.
Higher capital requirements would put European banks at a competitive disadvantage to their U.S. rivals, Achleitner said, referring to efforts by the Basel committee of supervisors to tighten bank capital rules to avoid a repeat financial crisis.
“The global rules, established with the Basel accord, must not one-sidedly reflect the views of the Americans,” Achleitner said.
The former finance chief of Allianz said European banks needed to defend their interests more vigorously against rivals in the United States where lenders are helped by state-sponsored bodies such as Fannie Mae, allowing them to shed part of the risk of mortgages.
“It’s obvious that national interests are increasingly being defined and represented in a more robust fashion,” Achleitner said. “It’s about time that we Europeans stand up for our interests too.”
Separately, Achleitner said government aid for players in the financial industry would not become an issue in Germany.
“No one in Germany needs to worry about rescuing banks,” said Achleitner, who confirmed he will stand for re-election as chairman at the bank’s annual general meeting in May.
By contrast, the Italian government has earmarked 20 billion euros ($21 billion) to bolster its ailing lenders.
The Bank of Italy said on Thursday that total costs for the state bailout of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena would come to about 6.6 billion euros.
$1 = 0.9512 euros Reporting by Andreas Cremer; editing by Gareth Jones/Ruth Pitchford