Commerzbank cuts management pay in contrast with Deutsche Bank

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Commerzbank’s chief executive’s pay fell by 32 percent in 2018, in sharp contrast to hefty rises for top management at its potential merger partner Deutsche Bank.

FILE PHOTO: Martin Zielke, CEO of Germany’s Commerzbank addresses the media during the bank’s annual news conference in Frankfurt, Germany, February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

The disparity, revealed in Commerzbank’s annual report on Wednesday, underscores a divide in the compensation culture of the German banking rivals, which are in talks over a merger.

Martin Zielke’s total compensation for the year was 1.97 million euros ($2.22 million), down from 2.88 million euros in 2017, compared with 7 million euros for Deutsche Bank’s chief Christian Sewing.

Pay for Commerzbank’s management board dropped by 24 percent in 2018, while Deutsche Bank’s board received total pay, including bonuses, of 55.7 million euros, up from 29.8 million euros a year earlier.

Commerzbank, 15 percent owned by the government after a bailout a decade ago, focuses on individual retail customers and financing small-and-medium sized corporate clients. Deutsche Bank in contrast operates a sprawling global investment bank.

The drop in management pay at Commerzbank comes despite its net profit rising to 865 million euros from 128 million a year earlier, although it scaled back revenue targets.

Commerzbank’s annual profit was more than twice the 341 million euros earned by Deutsche Bank.

Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank declined to comment on the pay disparity.

Commerzbank’s bonus pool for the broader workforce declined 41 percent to 134 million euros from 229 million a year earlier.

Separately, the prospect of a merger is facing heightened opposition from Commerzbank employees.

The bank’s workers’ council sent a letter to board members on Wednesday to protest the merger, saying the idea lacked support among workers, customers and society.

“We are of the opinion that you will fall into an uncontrollable adventure without a solid plan, without a vision and without support,” the letter said.

Reporting by Tom Sims, Hans Seidenstuecker and Arno Schuetze; editing by Thomas Seythal, Kirsten Donovan and Alexander Smith

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