March 4, 2016 / 3:20 PM / a year ago

Commerzbank to name Zielke as new boss: Welt am Sonntag

A man walks past a logo of Commerzbank ahead of the bank's annual news conference in Frankfurt February 12, 2015.Ralph Orlowski

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Martin Zielke, board member in charge of Commerzbank's (CBKG.DE) business dealing with private customers, is to succeed Martin Blessing as the German lender's chief executive, German weekly Welt am Sonntag reported.

Welt am Sonntag did not say where it obtained the information and Commerzbank declined to comment.

The bank's supervisory board will convene for an extraordinary meeting on Sunday, March 6, to decide on Blessing's successor, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.

Trained at larger rival Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) before studying business administration at Goettingen University, Zielke, 53, joined Commerzbank in 2002 and has been a member of the group's management board since 2010.

A source familiar with the situation told Reuters that the search had narrowed, with Zielke being among the favored candidates on the shortlist for the role.

Commerzbank Chairman Klaus-Peter Mueller said last month he intended to find a replacement for Blessing by the bank's annual shareholder meeting on April 30, adding that he had strong internal and external candidates to hand.

The source had also pointed to 51-year old Markus Beumer, who leads Commerzbank's flagship corporate lending business with Germany's medium-sized "Mittelstand" companies.

Blessing announced in November his intention to step down, saying 2016 was a good time to hand over control of Germany's second-biggest lender, which he has led since 2008.

Pulling together a shortlist would have been no easy task, said a former top level bank executive.

"I don't think there is a huge number of candidates with the appropriate experience for the difficult job of leading a mid-sized commercial bank," the person said.

Blessing steered Commerzbank through the turbulence that followed its takeover of Dresdner Bank in the midst of the financial crisis.

The German government had to bail out Commerzbank with more than 18 billion euros ($20 billion) in funds at the time and Berlin still holds a more than 15 percent stake in the lender.

Since then, the 52-year old Blessing has returned Commerzbank to profit and to paying a dividend, slashed risky assets and strengthened its capital base.

However, he has refrained from giving the lender fresh medium-term goals and direction, preferring to leave that task to his successor.

($1 = 0.9117 euros)

Reporting by Alexander Huebner, Kathrin Jones, Jonathan Gould and Andreas Kroener; Writing Christoph Steitz; Editing by Georgina Prodhan and Keith Weir

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