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Commerzbank Taps Rival For New CEO

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor , London, 28 September 2020

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The new CEO has been the head of private banking in Germany for Deutsche Bank. He takes over at a time when Commerzbank has been attempting to revive its fortunes. Commerzbank provides services including wealth management.

Commerzbank, Germany’s second-largest bank, has appointed Deutsche Bank private banking head Manfred Knof as its new chief executive.

Knof, who starts in January, will be taking over from CEO Martin Zielke, who resigned along with Commerzbank’s chairman in July. 

The bank is still part-owned by the German government following the bailout a decade ago. It holds a 15 per cent stake in the lender (source: Wall Street Journal, 26 September.).

Knof, who has been head of Deutsche Bank private bank in Germany, has also, until 2017, been CEO at Allianz Deutschland.

As reports noted, the bank is cutting jobs and restructuring to build a wider profit margin.

Commerzbank has tight and important connections to Germany’s Mittelstand segment of small- and medium-sized firms that form the backbone of the country’s economy, and is an important source of HNW individuals. 

"I have a great deal of respect for this new assignment. Commerzbank, with its Mittelstandsbank, has a high relevance for the German economy. Its private clients business has shown a very innovative approach. And Commerzbank has a unique culture that I am very much looking forward to,” Knof said in a statement over the weekend. 

This decision is subject to the approval of supervisory authorities.

From 1 August 2019 until its merger with Deutsche Bank in May this year, Knof was chairman of the Board of DB Privat- und Firmenkundenbank AG, and continues to be head of Deutsche Bank's Private Bank Germany.

Knof studied law at the University of Cologne and attained its doctorate in 1994. He also holds a Master of Business Administration from New York University. 

In 2019, Deutsche Bank abandoned attempts to acquire Commerzbank.

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