Germany’s second-largest bank has said it wrote off €175m ($207m) in the second quarter related to a large single case, believed to be scandal-plagued Wirecard.
Commerzbank was among 15 banks that had together lent Wirecard €1.75bn under a revolving credit facility. Among the banks were Germany’s LBBW, and the Netherlands’ ING Groep NV and ABN Amro NV.
Meanwhile, the German electronic payments company, where €1.9bn went missing, has filed for insolvency proceedings, citing “impending insolvency and over-indebtedness.”
A court-appointed insolvency administrator is trying to sell several parts of Wirecard, including its operations outside Germany, to repay creditors.
Creditors have lost hope of recovering their money
However, banks left holding the bag are not optimistic about recouping their money. Some have tried to get rid of the exposure in firesales, but nobody else wants to deal with it.
For Commerzbank, the financial setback comes after the Frankfurt-based bank has already taken a €131m-charge as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. chief financial officer Bettina Orlopp said her bank will learn a lesson from the experience. “We will do lessons learned on cases like that.”
Orlopp commented that German regulators need to re-evaluate the way warning signs of financial irregularities are addressed, echoing what German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Sunday.
Troubling times for Commerzbank
The Wirecard mess could hardly come at a worse time for Commerzbank. The 150-year-old bank is under enormous pressure to boost profits after its failed attempt to merge with bigger rival Deutsche Bank AG last year.
Commerzbank’s second-largest shareholder, Cerberus Capital Management, is constantly denouncing management for the bank’s dismal performance.
Both the chairman, Stefan Schmittmann, and the chief executive, Martin Zielke, announced their resignations early last month. Earlier this week, the bank appointed former state bank executive Hans-Jörg Vetter as its new chairman.
Commerzbank said in a statement on Wednesday that given provisions and charges for restructuring it anticipated a loss for the full year. The bank had previously said its goal of turning a profit in 2020 was “very ambitious”.