FRANKFURT: Commerzbank, Germany’s second-biggest lender, said on Thursday it would not part ways with its Russian subsidiary as it reported improved first quarter profits.
The Russian business, which employs around 140 people, was “not for sale”, CEO Manfred Knof said in a call with journalists.
Commerzbank would stay in Russia “so long as German customers still do business there”, Knof said.
French bank Societe Generale was finalising the sale of its activities, it said last week. Meanwhile, Italian outfit UniCredit has said it is in “preliminary” talks to sell its Russian subsidiary.
Over the first three months of the year, Commerzbank reported a net profit of 298 million euros ($313 million), up from 133 million euros last year.
Revenues at the bank rose to 2.8 billion euros from 2.5 billion euros year-on-year.
The increase outweighed money set aside by the bank to hedge against a “significant increase” in risk as a result of the Russian war in Ukraine.
The bank said it was setting aside “almost half a billion euros” to cover potential losses “in connection to Russia”.
The impact was counterbalanced by a reduction in the provisions made for risks related to the coronavirus pandemic, the bank said.
After halting new business in Russia, Commerzbank was only operating with “existing German and international customers”.
Following the outbreak of the war, the lender had also reduced its exposure to Russia by 36 percent, leaving it on the hook for “less then 1.2 billion euros” at the end of April.
Commerzbank’s success in offsetting the costs arising from Russia underlined “how robust and resilient our customer business is in these challenging times”, chief financial officer Bettina Orlopp said in a statement.
The improvement showed that the bank’s restructuring strategy “is working”, CEO Knof said.
The group embarked on the overhaul in 2020 following heavy losses incurred around the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The transformation includes plans to reduce the workforce from nearly 40,000 at the end of 2020 to 32,000 by the end of 2024.
The bank trimmed its operating costs by two percent to 1.4 billion euros in the first quarter.