Commerzbank Appeals $63 Million Dresdner Bankers Bonus Suit

Commerzbank AG, Germany’s second-largest lender, said it appealed a court ruling forcing it to pay about 50 million euros ($63.5 million) in bonuses to more than 100 Dresdner Kleinwort bankers.

The bank asked the U.K. Court of Appeal to overturn the May 9 decision by Judge Robert Owen that said the bank broke its pledge to pay its former workers their full bonuses.

Commerzbank, which took over Dresdner in January 2009, was accused by 104 bankers of breaking a promise by then-Dresdner Chief Executive Officer Stefan Jentzsch the previous year, when he said there would be a guaranteed 400 million euros for bonuses.

“We strongly disagree with the decision of the U.K. high court,” Andrew Walton, a spokesman for Frankfurt-based Commerzbank, said in a statement. “It was reasonable and responsible to reduce the bonuses in the light of the 6.5 billion-euro loss that Dresdner’s investment-banking operation posted for 2008.”

Commerzbank said at a January trial that it was entitled to cut bonus payouts by more than 90 percent for bankers including Desmond McNamara, former head of risk management at Dresdner’s capital-markets division, because of the record losses at the investment banking unit.

“We note Commerzbank has now sought permission to appeal; we do not consider that their grounds for appeal have any merit,” Andrew Shaw, a lawyer at Stewarts Law LLP representing the former Dresdner bankers, said in an e-mailed statement.

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