Bloomberg News

Dresdner Banker Says Commerzbank Bonus Not Enough

January 26, 2012

(Corrects currency conversion in fourth paragraph.)

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- A former manager at Commerzbank AG’s Dresdner Bank unit told a London court he was suing the German lender because it hasn’t paid him the bonus his performance deserved -- $394,000.

Desmond McNamara, who headed up risk management for Dresdner’s capital-markets division, is one of 104 London-based bankers who have sued claiming Commerzbank failed to honor a bonus pledge Dresdner made before it was taken over in 2009.

“I’m only claiming the amount my line manager determined during the year my performance was worth,” McNamara said. While he received salary and a guaranteed bonus worth around 400,000 pounds ($628,000) for 2008, Commerzbank didn’t pay a discretionary bonus he was told was worth another $394,000.

Commerzbank, Germany’s second biggest lender, completed a takeover of Dresdner in January 2009 then cut bonuses by 90 percent or more, according to court filings from the former Dresdner bankers. Stefan Jentzsch, Dresdner’s former chief executive officer, had in 2008 promised to set aside 400 million euros ($524 million) for workers who stayed at the bank.

Commerzbank, which took an 18.2 billion-euro bailout from Germany during the credit crunch, has been sued in London, Germany and Singapore by workers who claim they weren’t paid what they were owed after the buyout.

Not ‘Legally Binding’

Earlier, Commerzbank lawyer Tom Linden set out the Frankfurt-based lender’s case, saying the 400 million-euro promise made by Jentzsch at a 2008 meeting “cannot have been intended to be legally binding even if it genuinely represented the intentions of the bank.”

The reason employees had stayed after the takeover was that “they had no wish to move and nowhere to go,” not because of a retention bonus, he said.

McNamara, the first employee to testify at the U.K. trial, said his role as risk manager was “better rewarded in what were extremely volatile markets” in 2008. He said he had added substantial value to Dresdner in the wake of Lehman Brothers Holding Inc.’s collapse.

The bankers are seeking a total of about 50 million euros, with individual payouts of as much as 2 million euros.

The cases include: Mr. Fahmi Anar & Others v. Dresdner Kleinwort Limited, Commerzbank AG, High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, HQ09X05230 and Richard Attrill & 71 others v. Dresdner Kleinwort Limited, Commerzbank AG, HQ09X04007

--Editors: Christopher Scinta, Anthony Aarons

To contact the reporter on this story: Kit Chellel in London at cchellel@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net


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