Takeover of S-Group NRW - an essential strategic stepWith retroactive effect from 1 July 2012, Helaba took over an S-Group portfolio from the former WestLB with a balance sheet total of around EUR 43 billion, risk-weighted assets (RWA) in an amount of almost EUR 9 billion as well as 415 members of staff. At the same time, the bank was entrusted with assuming the function of central clearing bank for the savings banks in North Rhine-Westphalia and Brandenburg. Since then, it has been supporting approximately 40 per cent of all German savings banks as an S-Group bank. The transaction was linked to a cash capital increase and the incorporation of new owners into the bank. Since then, a savings bank share of around 88 per cent has characterised the ownership structure of Helaba. Brenner: "This decision is an important step for the further strategic development of Helaba. No other Landesbank can boast similarly close ties to the savings bank organisation. Our mutual challenge is now to continue breathing life into the S-Group cooperation and, as a team, to achieve our ambitious goals. For S-Group political reasons and economic reasons, our aim in the medium term is to achieve a proportion of S-Group business of 60 to 80 per cent." Together with the savings banks, Helaba's aim is to provide a comprehensive range of products and services on a cross-regional basis in collaboration with savings banks. Aside from performing the function as a central clearing bank for the savings banks, Helaba is also active as a corporate bank in North Rhine-Westphalia. Regulation with a sense of proportion With an eye on the numerous regulatory measures, among others the EU-wide implementation of Basel III, the European Banking Authority, restructuring and winding up of banks and draft German legislation to separate commercial and investment banks, Brenner said: "I have a lot of sympathy for the opinion that any future bank bailouts should not occur to the detriment of the taxpayer. The financial industry has to accept this. The banking sector must make its contribution to stabilising financial markets and to winning back trust in our sector. A sensible and, above all, co-ordinated expansion of regulatory requirements for banks is certainly an appropriate instrument in order to achieve this. However, this is on condition that those responsible keep a holistic view of all regulatory measures and their effects in mind. In addition to that, care must be taken to prevent individual countries, in the course of introducing new regulatory measures, from pushing ahead with their own action. At the end of the day this would have a distorting effect on competition. Furthermore, it is also important to ensure that banking groups and organisations of affiliated banks, such as the savings banks and co-operative banks with their associated lead institutions, are treated equally. This is required by the principle of the supervisory authorities guaranteeing a level playing field.