FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Cerberus wants Commerzbank <CBKG.DE> to cut far more than a reported 7,000 jobs as part of plans by Germany’s second biggest bank to reduce costs, a person familiar with the matter said.
The U.S. activist investor, one of Commerzbank’s largest shareholders with a stake of more than 5%, has been pressing for big changes, with a dramatic restructuring a concern for German banking unions.
Cerberus plans to present Commerzbank with a “succinct view” on measures it should take on headcount and other moves in the coming weeks, the person said on condition of anonymity, adding that job cuts should be “definitely beyond” 7,000.
A spokeswoman for Commerzbank, which at the end of 2019 employed around 48,500 workers, plans to announce details of cost-cutting measures by August at the latest, said:
“Currently, different options and scenarios are being discussed. No decisions have been taken.”
Commerzbank’s supervisory board was set to discuss the possibility of a further 7,000 redundancies, in addition to the more than 4,000 job cuts announced last autumn, the business daily newspaper Boersen-Zeitung reported on Tuesday.
“A strategy that is influenced by Cerberus is definitely not in the interest of employees,” said Stefan Wittmann, who represents labour on the supervisory board and is an official at Germany’s Verdi union.
Citing finance industry sources, Boersen-Zeitung said Commerzbank, under pressure from shareholders over its strategy and leadership, was now considering closing 400 of its 1,000 German offices, or double the number previously mentioned.
A meeting of Commerzbank’s supervisory board planned for Wednesday will not take place as worker representatives wanted to have time to study documents detailing proposals by the bank and these had not been provided, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported.
Cerberus sought to invoke quicker change at Commerzbank, which rejected its demand for two supervisory board seats.
(Reporting by Vera Eckert, Anneli Palmen, Hans Seidenstuecker and Tom Sims; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Madeline Chambers, Sabine Wollrab and Alexander Smith)