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New Commerzbank boss: Advance praise for Manfred Knof

D.he stock exchange has high hopes for the future head of Commerzbank. On the first day of trading after the announcement that the previous Deutsche Bank manager Manfred Knof will head the bank, the share price rose by more than 5 percent on Monday. At 4.20 euros, the share is still at a very low level, almost 30 percent lower than at the beginning of the year. The third largest German private bank on the stock exchange is just worth around 5 billion euros.

“The nomination lays the foundation for the restructuring of Commerzbank,” said a trader. However, this will be a while in coming, as the new boss will only take over from Martin Zielke in January. “In this respect, it’s too early for enthusiasm.” In fact, in a rising overall market, other bank stocks were also in great demand with investors: Deutsche Bank stocks rose 5.7 percent, Swiss Credit Suisse stocks rose 3.8 percent and the Shares in the British HSBC rose by as much as 8.6 percent. Many major banks had to accept sharp price losses in the past week because fear of new burdens from the corona pandemic increased again.

Not a sprint, more like a marathon

Analyst Martina Matouskova from the American bank Jefferies thinks the new Commerzbank boss is a good choice. Knof is known for his successful restructuring of Allianz Deutschland AG, of which he was head before moving to Deutsche Bank. There he digitized the insurance business and implemented comprehensive savings measures. He therefore also has experience in negotiating with the unions. “He will need all of these qualities for the reorganization of Commerzbank. It will not be a sprint, but rather a marathon,” wrote Matouskova in a short comment. In view of the demands of several investors for better returns, further job cuts and the closure of several hundred branches at Commerzbank can hardly be avoided.

Commerzbank had been looking for a successor to Zielke for a long time, who had thrown in the towel in early July in a dispute with the investor Cerberus. Important shareholders such as the federal government, which has held a good 15 percent in Commerzbank since a billion-dollar rescue operation during the financial crisis, and the investment company Deka welcomed Knof’s appointment.

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