Commerzbank profit declines in fourth quarter amid weak markets and restructuring​

A Commerzbank logo is pictured in Frankfurt, Germany, February 12, 2016. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Commerzbank CBKG.DE reported on Thursday a 51 percent decline in net profit in the fourth quarter amid weak markets and as the German lender focuses on a major overhaul.

The 90 million euro ($110.5 million) quarterly net profit at Germany's second-largest lender after Deutsche Bank DBKGn.DE was above expectations of 69.7 million euros, according to a Reuters poll of nine banks and brokerages.

The lender, still partly owned by the German government, is in the midst of an overhaul program. It is reducing its staff while focusing on digitizing its back office and expanding its retail customer base.

“So far we made good progress in 2017,” Chief Executive Martin Zielke said in a statement. “However, it is also clear that we still have some work ahead of us before we can achieve the profitability we are aiming for.”

For the full year of 2017, the bank posted a net profit of 156 million euros, down 44 percent from a year ago, but making good on its own promise to eke out a “slightly positive” net profit.

In a sign of the bank’s improving financial health, its Common Equity Tier 1 capital ratio rose to 14.1 percent from 13.5 percent at the end of the third quarter.

Zielke said the bank aimed to resume dividend payments for 2018.

Reporting by Tom Sims; Editing by Douglas Busvine