Bright lights, big
Throughout its 140-year history, Commerzbank has moved its
headquarters three times. It relocated from its founding city of
Hamburg to Berlin just after the beginning of the 20th century,
moved from Berlin to Dusseldorf just after World War II and
officially made its home in Frankfurt in 1970.
Germany's second-biggest bank, Commerzbank has a presence in 50
countries around the world, employing approximately 40,000 people,
of which more than a third work outside its native Germany. The
bank's total private and business customer base of 8.5 million
includes more than half a million corporate customers, and the
bank's network encompasses more than 5,000 "correspondent banks"
worldwide. Commerzbank's business structure is divided into four
main units: corporate banking, retail banking, real estate banking
and institutions. The services offered by the corporate banking
division include financing, transaction management, investment,
foreign business, risk management consulting.
Commerzbank's history dates back to 1870 when Commerz- and
Disconto-Bank was founded in Hamburg by a group of merchants and
merchant and private bankers. By the time the 20th century arrived,
the bank's business was heavily focused on Berlin, and the bank
relocated its headquarters there in 1905, having established itself
as one of the country's top banks.
Over the next four decades, the bank grew through a series of
mergers and acquisitions. After the post-WWII division of Europe,
Commerzbank lost an estimated 45 per cent of its business premises.
West Germany's biggest banks were decentralised, creating three
separate regional banks, which were not united again until 1958
under the name of "Commerzbank Aktiengesellshaft" (headquartered in
Dusseldorf). Commerzbank's growth and expansion continued rapidly
thereafter, and in 1970, the banks headquarters relocated (again)
to the nation's financial capital of Frankfurt am Main.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Commerzbank opened offices again
in what was still being called East Berlin; by the first
anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Commerzbank had 50
locations in the former East Germany (German Democratic Republic).
Throughout the 1990s, European expansion continued, including stock
listings in Madrid and Milan. Asian expansion also kicked off, with
offices opening in Indonesia, Malaysia and China. In addition to
Western Europe, the bank expanded in Eastern Europe, the United
States and North Africa. By 2001, the bank had six million
customers and, during the year, had opened a new trading centre in
Frankfurt. In 2005, the bank famously took over rival German bank
Eurohypo AG, Eschborn, becoming the second-largest lender in
Germany, with more than eight million customers.
Three years later, the firm went big again, agreeing to acquire
German banking giant Dresdner Bank from Allianz for €9.8 billion.
According to Commerzbank, about 9,000 positions would be cut as a
result of the merger, which was announced in August 2008 and is
expected to close in 2009.
Taking over Eurohypo
A major Commerzbank subsidiary, Eurohypo was the product of a 2002
agreement between what were then Germany's three biggest banks:
Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank and Commerzbank. The three agreed to
merge their holdings in the real estate banking businesses in order
to form Eurohypo AG. The timing was perfect, and Eurohypo was an
instant success, quickly growing into one of the biggest banks in
Germany (despite its real estate and public finance focus). In
2005, Commerzbank acquired Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank's stakes
in Eurohypo, making the firm a wholly owned subsidiary. In 2006 and
2007, Eurohypo was named the Best Global Commercial Bank in Real
Estate at Euromoney's
annual Awards of Excellence.
Eurohypo is focused on real estate and public finance, and enjoys a
coveted position as one of Germany's leading bond issuers. The real
estate division of Eurohypo encompasses commercial real estate
financing, including structured finance and international real
estate financing. The public finance division of the bank
encompasses conventional public sector lending, project and
infrastructure financing, and PPP (private public partnership)
models. Eurohypo's treasury division offers services in local
treasuries and capital markets funding. In August 2008, fellow
German bank Hypothekenbank in Essen AG (Essen Hyp) merged and
integrated with Eurohypo.