Chinese conglomerate HNA takes top stake in Deutsche Bank

Alexander Hübner and Arno Schuetze

* Chinese conglomerate has expanded overseas

* HNA has targeted financial services

* Qatari investors options would give them similar stake

(Adds stakeholder details, background)

FRANKFURT, May 2 (Reuters) - Chinese conglomerate HNA Group

has become Deutsche Bank's biggest direct

shareholder, upping its stake in the flagship lender of Europe's

top economy to just under 10 percent, according to a U.S.

regulatory filing.

HNA's buy, which one trader said would lift confidence in

the lender's stock, leaves roughly one fifth of the struggling

bank in the hands of investors who may be pursuing strategic

interests.

It comes at a time of heightened uncertainty at the bank, as

it grapples with a strategic turnaround, an uncertain global

economy and the impact of Britain's departure from the European

Union.

HNA's stake puts it slightly ahead of Qatari investors.

Funds controlled by Qatar's former Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad

bin Jassim al-Thani last year increased their stake, including

options, to just under 10 percent.

The Chinese group has been on an acquisition spree,

expanding from its traditional business of aviation and

logistics into financial services, betting on asset managers and

consumer finance for growth at home and overseas.

It reflects a broader push by China into financial services

globally as Beijing encourages its corporate sector to expand

overseas, although it faces increased regulatory scrutiny in the

United States and Europe.

Hefty legal penalties including for the sale of toxic U.S.

mortgage debt have hit Deutsche Bank hard and even prompted

speculation last year, denied by the bank, that it needed a

government bailout.

Last month it asked investors to for an 8 billion euro cash

injection, the fourth such request since 2010, putting it on

track to raise more than its entire market value over roughly

seven years.

HNA last lifted its stake in Deutsche in March to 4.76

percent. A regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and

Exchange Commission said it had now increased this to 9.9

percent.

Fund manager BlackRock owns 6.1 percent.

$1 = 0.9156 euros)

(Writing by John O'Donnell and Emma Thomasson)