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Commerzbank benefits from Müller’s surprise medicine

Little more than a year ago Commerzbank was the sick man of European finance, seemingly destined to a lonely, perhaps terminal, decline. Now insiders say the surprise acquisition of Eurohypo has given the merged firm, and its investment bank, a new lease of life. Philip Moore reports on the patient’s progress.

Commerzbank and Müller: A marriage of convenience?

SPEAK TO VIRTUALLY any member of the senior management at Commerzbank or Eurohypo and they will suggest that in a number of areas the alliance between the two has amounted to something that approximates to the banking industry’s equivalent of a match made in heaven.

"On the investment banking side of the business things are going remarkably well. The business is gaining a momentum of its own, which we are delighted by," says Nicholas Teller, overall head of investment banking and member of the board of managing directors. If there is almost a hint of pleasant surprise in this observation, that is understandable, given the speed with which the alliance was negotiated late in 2005.

It is also understandable given that the integration of the two banks already appears to be comfortably ahead of schedule. For proof of that, Klaus-Peter Müller, Commerzbank’s CEO, points to his recent appointment of Jochen Klösges as head of the group’s strategy and controlling department. Until the start of March, Müller explains, Klösges was effectively responsible for overseeing the integration process, a role he was expected to fill until September.

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