Commerzbank says investment drive to alleviate need to cut jobs

FRANKFURT Thu Nov 8, 2012 9:41am EST

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Commerzbank (CBKG.DE) retail banking chief declined to comment on media reports about potential job losses of up to 6,000 positions, but signaled staff reductions would be larger without a planned overhaul and upgrade of the branch network.

On Wednesday German newspaper Die Zeit reported the group would cut up to 6,000 staff but Commerzbank on Thursday declined to comment on potential cost cuts.

"We will be discussing the matter with employee representatives," retail banking head Martin Zielke said.

Commerzbank, however, said it is spending more than 2 billion euros ($2.55 billion) on its core business, with about half the investment earmarked for its retail arm, aiming to win one million new customers by 2016.

Part of the overhaul includes job cuts in an effort to slash costs by 1 billion euros over the next four years. Blessing declined to give a specific number for layoffs, but said: "It is clear that bigger scale job cuts are possible - and likely," Blessing said.

Thanks to the investment in overhauling the retail branch network, job cuts will likely be lower, Zielke further said. Without such investments, "The capacity reduction would be twice as large as currently planned".

Commerzbank said it does not expect to post a profit in its struggling retail business operations in 2013, but does not plan to close any of its 1,200 branches in its domestic German market. ($1 = 0.7840 euros) (Reporting By Edward Taylor)

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