Former Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann is the new head of the Commerzbank Supervisory Board. After the online general meeting on Wednesday, the control committee unanimously elected the 55-year-old as its new chairman, as the Frankfurt money house announced. The shareholders represented at the Annual General Meeting had previously elected Weidmann as a new member of the Supervisory Board with 99.2 percent approval. Predecessor Helmut Gottschalk (71) had already made public in November that he would no longer compete for reasons of age and, in consultation with the Federal Ministry of Finance, would propose Weidmann as his successor.
Since the rescue of Commerzbank with billions in taxes during the financial crisis of 2008/2009, the federal government has been the institute’s largest single shareholder with a current 15.6 percent stake. Weidmann is the fourth chairman of the Commerzbank supervisory board in just over three years. His predecessor Gottschalk took over the chairmanship of the supervisory board in April 2021 from Hans-Jörg Vetter, who was ill. His predecessor Stefan Schmittmann had thrown in the summer of 2020 after harsh criticism from the US financial investor Cerberus.
Weidmann knows Commerzbank, which is now partially nationalized, from difficult times: When the institute took over Dresdner Bank during the financial crisis of 2008/2009 and had to be saved from collapsing with billions in taxes, Weidmann was one of the leading advisors to the then Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) Head of the Economic and Financial Policy Department in the Chancellery. Born in Solingen, he belonged to the group of top officials who put together rescue packages for struggling banks.
In May 2011, at the age of 43, Weidmann became the youngest Bundesbank president of all time to take over the post at the central bank in Frankfurt from Axel Weber, who had thrown it down in the dispute over the European Central Bank’s (ECB) anti-crisis policy. Weidmann also always warned against excessive monetary policy. He set the course for the career change at the end of 2021: Weidmann resigned as Bundesbank President on December 31, 2021.
Business at Commerzbank has recently been better again, also boosted by the turnaround in interest rates. Last year, Commerzbank earned more than 1.4 billion euros since 2007. After a jump in profits in the first quarter of 2023, CEO Manfred Knof confirmed at the Annual General Meeting that he intends to significantly increase the surplus in the current year. Commerzbank “plays a key role as the leading bank for small and medium-sized businesses,” Commerzbank quoted Weidmann as saying in the statement on his election.
Fund manager Alexandra Annecke from Union Investment had previously said at the general meeting that Gottschalk was handing over “a bank with potential” to his successor, and that the restructuring was making good progress, but was “not yet complete”. Nonetheless, better times should also be upon us for the shareholders of the financial institution: there is a dividend of 20 cents per share for the past financial year. This third profit distribution of the institute since the rescue in the financial crisis should only be the beginning according to the will of the board.