Commerzbank AG has promised to return €3 billion ($3.2 billion) to shareholders for profits earned from 2022 through 2024, placing it at the lower end of a previously given range of potential payouts.
(Bloomberg) — Commerzbank AG has promised to return €3 billion ($3.2 billion) to shareholders for profits earned from 2022 through 2024, placing it at the lower end of a previously given range of potential payouts.
It has to keep its CET1 ratio at a minimum level of 13.5% to be allowed to buy back shares, it said in a statement on Thursday.
Chief Executive Officer Manfred Knof signaled early last year that the lender would aim to return at least €3 billion and as much as €5 billion to shareholders. At the time, he said that the German lender would be able to return that amount through dividends and share buybacks if it were to allow its CET1 ratio — a regulatory metric of capital strength — to fall to 12.8%.
“Given rising capital target (with no further details disclosed) and no upside changes for 2023-24 capital distribution, we think the stock may have an initial negative reaction to this news,” Citigroup Inc. analysts led by Borja Ramirez Segura said in a note on Friday.
Commerzbank has been a key beneficiary of the European Central Bank’s interest rate increases as it relies heavily on lending to consumers and companies for income. It has started returning cash again after a long period in which it paid little to no dividends, and has previously promised more of its earnings to shareholders going forward.
In a bid to achieve the promised capital return, Commerzbank on Thursday raised the expected payout ratio to more than 50% for the years 2025 through 2027, and to at least 70% for 2024. It had previously promised to return between 30% and 50% of its profits to shareholders.
“The planned increase in the pay-out ratio is an expression of our confidence in the bank’s continued development,” Knof said in the statement.
The German lender also said on Thursday that it expects return on tangible equity to exceed 11% by 2027. It had previously guided that it would raise its profitability target to above 10% in an effort to earn its cost of capital.
Commerzbank’s new profitability and payout targets come ahead of an investor day scheduled for Nov. 8.
Read More: Commerzbank CFO Signals $960 Million in Payouts for 2023
Thus far, Commerzbank has returned about €370 million in total payouts on its 2022 profits. It has also signaled about €900 million euros in payouts from the profits it expects to earn in the current year, leaving roughly €1.73 billion to be paid out on 2024 profits.
–With assistance from Sam Nagarajan.
(Updates with information from statement throughout. An earlier version corrected the spelling of the bank’s name.)
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