Commerzbank Proposes Ex-Risk Officer as Supervisory Board Head

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Commerzbank AG plans to appoint Stefan Schmittmann, who stepped down as chief risk officer in December, to succeed Klaus-Peter Mueller as head of the lender’s supervisory board.

Commerzbank intends to nominate Schmittmann, 59, at the annual shareholder meeting in May 2018. That will comply with corporate governance rules that require a 24-month grace period before top executives can join the board, the Frankfurt-based bank said in a statement on Wednesday. Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported the proposal earlier.

Germany’s second-biggest bank has long sought a replacement for Mueller, 71, who has been chairman of the supervisory board since 2008. The lender last month forecast a decline in both operating profit and net income this year, adding to pressure on Chief Executive Officer Martin Zielke, who took over in May, to cut costs further as record-low interest rates erode bank earnings.

Schmittmann, who has served on Commerzbank’s management board since November 2008, helped the bank pass stress tests by the European Central Bank and the European Banking Authority in 2014.

“While it’s positive that they found a candidate who knows the bank, an outsider might have had some appeal too,” said Andreas Plaesier, an analyst at Warburg Research GmbH, with a hold rating on the stock. “Having a background in risk management certainly is an advantage in the current environment.”

Under former CEO Martin Blessing, Commerzbank announced measures to eliminate about 5,200 jobs by 2016 to help lower costs and resume dividend payments.