Online Banking

London Investor Blitzes Commerzbank

Commerzbank needs to step it up in online banking, a London investor says. Source: Reuters

Commerzbank, Germany’s second-largest bank, sees the glass at its online banking unit as half-full, but a London investor says it’s half-empty.

In a blistering letter obtained by Handelsblatt, activist investor Petrus Advisers says Comdirect, which has about a fifth of its shares held by the public, should be making a lot more money. The letter, addressed to Commerzbank CEO Martin Zielke, demands fresh blood in management and on the board of the unit, complaining that current members schooled in branch banking don’t get online banking.

The letter, signed by managing partner Klaus Umek and partner Till Hufnagel, doesn’t mince words. It considers Commerzbank a “dominating shareholder who has no smart ideas.” Petrus says it owns 1 percent of Comdirect shares, making it the second-largest shareholder, far behind Commerzbank with 82 percent. Petrus complains that small shareholders are being “choked” by the parent bank’s cost structure.

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