Danske Hires Commerzbank CFO in String of Management Changes

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Danske Hires Commerzbank CFO in String of Management Changes
Credit: © Reuters.

(Bloomberg) -- Danske Bank A/S (CSE: DANSKE ) unveiled a number of changes to its executive team, including a new chief financial officer taken from Commerzbank AG (DE: CBKG ).

Chief Executive Officer Chris Vogelzang, who started at Danske in June, presented a revamped team of top managers to help steer Denmark’s biggest bank through the fallout of its vast money laundering scandal. Stephan Engels will become CFO in April, replacing Christian Baltzer, who will leave the bank after less than a year, Danske said on Thursday.

Vogelzang said Engels, who has also held senior positions at the top of the German car industry, brings “strong execution expertise and management experience.”

The re-organization follows a series of executive purges at Danske and marks the second time Vogelzang has made changes since taking the helm just a few months ago. His predecessor, Thomas Borgen, has had preliminary criminal charges brought against him because of the laundering affair. An interim CEO who ran the bank before Vogelzang joined, Jesper Nielsen, was fired not long ago for his role in a separate scandal, in which Danske overcharged retail investors.

As part of the organizational adjustments announced on Thursday, Danske said it will make its Swedish CEO, Berit Behring, the bank’s head of wealth management. She will replace Jacob Aarup-Andersen, who will temporarily serve as CFO until Engels joins. After that, Aarup-Andersen will run Danske’s Danish operations.

Danske shares rose as much as 2.7% in Copenhagen trading, making it the best performer in the Bloomberg Europe Banks and Financial Services Index.

“It’s very obvious that Vogelzang is setting up his own team,” Mads Thinggaard, an analyst at ABG Sundal Collier, said. “That’s probably what is going to work best, looking at the challenges that Danske is facing.”

The bank also said that Chief Operating Officer Jim Ditmore will leave with a search for a replacement under way, as will Frederik Gjessing Vinten, the bank’s head of group development, whose job is being canceled.

Commerzbank (DE: CBKG ) said it was sorry to see Engels leave. As Commerzbank’s finance chief since 2012, he’d helped shape the lender’s new strategy, which included a pivot away from investment banking and toward servicing the retail clients and mid-sized corporate clients in its home market.

His departure is a setback for Commerzbank (DE: CBKG ) CEO Martin Zielke, who already had to give up most of his medium-term targets amid an economic slowdown in Europe’s largest economy and the prospect of lower interest rates.

“I deeply regret Stephan Engels’ decision, but understand his desire to embark on a new, international challenge,” Zielke said in a statement.

Before Commerzbank (DE: CBKG ), he was head of finance & controlling at carmaker Mercedes-Benz and head of group controlling and reporting at Daimler AG (DE: DAIGn ). Born in Hamburg, Engels studied economics at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.

(Updates with analyst comment, share price.)

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