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Germany’s long-troubled maritime lender HSH Nordbank on Tuesday said it plans to lay off some 700 of its 1,700 employees as part of a major restructuring under new US owners.
A spokesman for HSH, the first of Germany’s regionally-owned ‘Landesbank’ lenders to be privatised, told AFP the jobs cull would be split between its sites in the northern German ports of Hamburg and Kiel.
Top German union Verdi called the layoffs ‘a disaster’, according to news agency DPA.
The states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein sold HSH Nordbank for one billion euros ($1.2 billion) to investors led by two US funds, J. Christopher Flowers and Cerberus capital, in a deal completed last month.
The European Commission had ordered a change of ownership in exchange for its approval in 2009 of a 13-billion-euro rescue – one of two taxpayer-funded bailouts for the German bank since the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
HSH Nordbank was badly hit by the global financial crisis, burdened by a massive stock of soured loans in the real estate and shipping sector after a series of risky investments.
The newly privatised bank said the upcoming job cuts were justified by the winding down of its internal ‘bad bank’, as well as reduced activities on the capital markets, the outsourcing of its IT system and a simpler organisational structure.
From February, the bank will go by the new name of Hamburg Commercial Bank.