Commerzbank’s chief executive said that it had made a “good” start to the year, as the German lender’s annual shareholder meeting got underway in Frankfurt.
Germany’s second largest lender is in the middle of a radical overhaul designed to boost its profitability after years of meagre earnings, and Martin Zielke, who became chief executive last year, conceded that the costs associated with the overhaul would weigh on its earnings in the short term.
“Both 2017 and 2018 will be years of transition. Our new strategy is aimed at achieving…sustainable profitability. Therefore we will have to invest more than €1bn in restructuring… the challenging environment makes this necessary,” he said.
However, he said that that the first three months of the year had gone well, and that Commerzbank had added 150,000 new customers in its retail and business client division in the first quarter.
“The results were decent. To that extent I am pretty satisfied,” he said. The bank is due to give full details of its first quarter results on May 9.
However, shareholders expressed frustration at the bank’s progress. Several bemoaned its decision not to pay a dividend for 2016, having only reinstated it the year before after a 7 year hiatus. Others criticised the level of executive pay at the bank, as well as the performance of its shares.