Martin Zielke

No Lover of Limelight

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Commerzbank’s CEO is set to join the board of the German banking association in turbulent times, underscoring the growing importance of the domestic banking market over international investment banking.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The appointment could be discussed by the association’s board as early as this week, according to Handelsblatt information.
    • Mr. Zielke was named Commerzbank’s CEO earlier this year, replacing Martin Blessing.
    • Mr. Zielke, 53, has presented a restructuring plan to cut 9,600 jobs by 2020.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Commerzbank CEO Zielke addresses a newsconference in Frankfurt
Commerzbank CEO Martin Zielke addresses a news conference in Frankfurt. Source: Reuters

Martin – who? When Martin Zielke was chosen as Commerzbank’s new chief executive earlier this year, even some industry experts had little idea of who he was. Mr. Zielke deliberately stayed in the background, even after taking office. At least until his radical restructuring plans for the country’s second largest bank became public at the end of September: By the end of 2020, the company plans to cut about 9,600 jobs, most of them in Germany.

Now the 53-year-old wants to join the board of the Association of German Banks (BdB), succeeding the head of Commerzbank’s business with small and medium-sized companies, Markus Beumer, who became the arguably most prominent victim of Mr. Zielke’s reconstruction plans. It was a further sign that the new chief executive of Commerzbank is not to be underestimated.

The appointment hasn’t been confirmed yet, as the banking association’s members still have to vote on it. The topic could be discussed as early as next week, according to information obtained by Handelsblatt. Both the BdB and Commerzbank declined to comment.

The association is made up of private-sector banks and represents heavyweights such as Deutsche Bank or HypoVereinsbank, but also many small private banks. Mr. Zielke’s entry into the BdB board can also be taken as a statement: His predecessor at Commerzbank, Martin Blessing, left the panel in 2012 to concentrate on working with the Institute of International Finance (IIF) – a move that was seen as an insult at the time.

Now Mr. Zielke has declared domestic lobbying a top priority – and will sit on the board of the banking association in the company of managers like John Cryan of Deutsche Bank or Hermann Merkens of Aareal Bank.

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