Commerzbank CEO Plans to Cut Jobs in Communications Unit by Half

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Commerzbank AG Chief Executive Officer Manfred Knof is planning to eliminate half the jobs in the German bank’s communications unit as he forges ahead with an ambitious cost-cutting plan.

Headcount in the unit, which is run by Sven Korndoerffer and handles internal and external communications, could fall to below 100 from about 200 now, according to people familiar with the matter.

Commerzbank CEO Plans to Cut Jobs in Communications Unit by Half

The bank is currently negotiating the cuts with works councils and the final figure may change, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. Knof’s intention is to make deeper job cuts in support functions than in units directly linked to revenue generation, they added.

A Commerzbank spokeswoman declined to comment.

Knof joined Commerzbank in January and a month later unveiled a four-year turnaround plan that seeks to boost the lender’s profitability by eliminating a third of all domestic roles.

He recently sealed an agreement with the works council on the broad outlines of the reductions, removing one big obstacle to the plan, though the labor representatives extracted concessions that raised the associated restructuring costs to more than 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion).

Commerzbank is closing hundreds of its roughly 800 retail branches and pulling out of several countries. At the same time, it’s planning to hire about 2,300 new staff to replace external contractors, ultimately leading to an expected net reduction of a quarter of the workforce in the bank’s home market.

The lender developed a track record of failing to achieve its targets under Knof’s predecessor, Martin Zielke. Labor representatives play a powerful role in its governance as they get to appoint half the members of the supervisory board and usually need to sign off on job-reduction programs.

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