Commerzbank Names Deutsche Bank’s Manfred Knof as New CEO

Commerzbank AG appointed Deutsche Bank AG’s German retail head Manfred Knof as its chief executive officer, seeking to end months of management turmoil.

Knof will take over from Martin Zielke on Jan. 1, the lender said in a statement late Saturday.

“Manfred Knof is an experienced and highly effective top manager who has proven himself in a wide range of tasks in the financial services industry,” Commerzbank Supevisory Board Chairman Hans-Joerg Vetter said in the press release. “He brings the necessary expertise and human leadership skills for the tasks that lie ahead of the Bank.”

Commerzbank was plunged into a leadership crisis in early July when Zielke and Vetter’s predecessor, Stefan Schmittmann, jointly said they would resign. Their moves came after months of criticism from the lender’s main shareholders of the bank’s poor performance.

The bank is currently working on a new strategy that may see a headcount reduction of 10,000, a cut of as many as 800 retail branches, and a scaling back of the bank’s foreign presence, Bloomberg News has reported.

According to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Philip Richards, a tie-up with Deutsche Bank may still be the ultimate outcome for Commerzbank if it fails to lift profitability as a standalone entity. Commerzbank could report losses for this year and next, he said in a note earlier this month.

Knof joined Deutsche Bank only one year ago to head the German retail unit. He told people around him last year that he was dissatisfied in his role, Bloomberg has reported.

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