FRANKFURT Germany's second biggest lender, Commerzbank (CBKG.DE), may cut up to 6,000 jobs, a German paper reported, catching local union officials off guard and pouring more misery on the euro zone's prospects for a speedy recovery.
Without naming sources German weekly Die Zeit reported on Wednesday that the job cuts are part of a multi-billion euro cost-cutting programme running until 2016.
The report comes on the same day companies across the region as diverse as telecoms equipment group Ericsson (ERICb.ST), bank ING, wind turbine maker Vestas (VWS.CO) and steel group Kloeckner (KCOGn.DE) unveiled big job cuts.
Commerzbank, which is set to announce details of its newest strategy revamp at an investor day on Thursday, declined to comment on the report.
Labor representatives expressed concern as the Frankfurt-based bank, which is 25 percent owned by the German State, held a supervisory board meeting ahead of an investor day on November 8.
"We expect the employer to disclose any such plans and to create transparency, as this speculation causes considerable insecurity among our employees," Beate Mensch, a union official from the Ver.di trade union said in a statement on Wednesday.
The bank, which received an 18 billion euros ($23 billion)bailout in the wake of the financial crisis and collapse of Lehman Brothers, has spent years restructuring as Greek debt writedowns and a slowing euro zone economy crimp its efforts to get back on its feet and build capital to meet new European rules.
In August, Commerzbank warned of a worsening euro zone crisis and gave a grim profit outlook, saying it may not pay a dividend in 2013.
It had already been forced to drop its 2012 profit targets, postpone dividend payments and limit new business to clients in Germany and Poland to meet new capital requirements.
After pulling back from shipping finance, commercial real estate and public sector lending, Commerzbank now says it will overhaul its retail branch network as economic pressures mean clients are steering clear of higher margin services. [ID:nWEA5008] ($1=0.7812 euros) (Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Edward Taylor; Editing by Mike Nesbit)