Before going through with its plan to nationalise beleaguerd Hypo Real Estate, the German government must first try to buy the shares of the ailing mortgage lender. An offer is being prepared -- much to the delight of speculators.

It is only a small passage in the controversial expropriation law passed by the lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag, on Friday. But government financial experts know full well that many speculators have taken careful note of that handful of words in the new law.

The passage states that although the government is entitled to expropriate the shareholders of Hypo Real Estate, it can only do so 'if the expropriation authority has first made a serious, but ultimately unsuccessful, attempt to complete an alternative purchase.'

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