Business World

Sunday 21 April 2019

Bank merger could cost Frankfurt 10,000 jobs

Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank headquarters in Frankfurt are at the centre of merger talks
Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank headquarters in Frankfurt are at the centre of merger talks

Stephen Kahl

London's Brexit exodus was supposed to boost the number of finance jobs in Frankfurt. Now, a potential merger between Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank puts the gains at risk.

"In Frankfurt alone, between 4,000 and 5,000 jobs could be cut in a merger," said Stephan Szukalski, head of the DBV union and a member of Deutsche Bank's supervisory board. Stefan Wittmann, a Verdi union representative who is on Commerzbank's supervisory board, said that between 8,000 and 10,000 Frankfurt jobs are in danger. "This is the result of a preliminary analysis that we have made," he told Bloomberg.

Job cuts of this magnitude would probably be difficult to be offset by positions which are relocated from London to Frankfurt, according to a survey conducted by Bloomberg this week.

Lobby group Frankfurt Main Finance, for example, expects an orderly Brexit to result in 10,000 new jobs in Frankfurt.

Helaba, a lender based in the city, sees 8,000 added positions over the years, while the Association of Foreign Banks in Germany puts the estimate at 3,000 to 5,000.

According to Deutsche Bundesbank, the number of employees at banks in Frankfurt has remained almost constant in recent years. In the summer of 2018, it stood at 63,100.

"Our current forecast for the end of 2020 sees a total of 65,000 employees. This includes two developments: on the one hand, a positive Brexit effect and, on the other, continued consolidation of the banks in Frankfurt," said Gertrud R Traud, chief economist of Helaba. "However, this does not take into account any major merger."

Spokesmen for Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank declined to comment.

Germany's finance ministry has pushed for a merger between the two lenders as a way to create a globally competitive national champion.

However, the chancellery has been less enthusiastic.

Angela Merkel's chief of staff, Helge Braun, this week said that preserving jobs would be the priority in any government decision on Deutsche Bank - and that Germany doesn't necessarily need a global player in finance.

Mrs Merkel said on Tuesday that it's up to the banks to decide.

As many as 30,000 positions could be at risk if a deal were reached, people familiar with the situation have said.

Bloomberg

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