Commerzbank has tapped a senior executive from rival Deutsche Bank to become its new chief executive, filling a leadership vacuum at the lender after months of uncertainty.
Manfred Knof, head of Deutsche Bank’s German retail business, will take over as head of Germany’s second largest bank in January.
Knof succeeds Martin Zielke, who resigned in July following a revolt by activist investor Cerberus – one of Commerzbank’s largest shareholders – which is pressing for big changes at the lender in a bid to halt its lacklustre financial performance.
Shares in Commerzbank have fallen sharply since the private equity investor took a five per cent stake in 2017. Cerberus has pushed for the lender to overhaul leadership and make significant job cuts.
The appointment allows the bank to move forward with a new strategic plan, which had been put on hold until a new chief executive was found. Commerzbank is considering closing branches and cutting international staff in a bid to reduce costs.
Hans-Joerg Vetter, who recently took over as chairman of Commerzbank’s supervisory board, has told employees that the lender is not a “restructuring case, but Commerzbank must become more efficient”.
“It needs to increase its revenues, reduce costs, and to question the status quo,” Vetter told employees, Reuters reported.
Vetter welcomed Knof’s appointment, describing him as an “experienced and highly effective top manager who has proven himself in a wide range of tasks in the financial services industry”.