The pacemaker

Before the financial crisis, Martin Blessing was a young, determined bank director. Now the former Commerzbank boss wants to help young financial technology companies to go public. Does this complete the circle of a banking career with many ups and downs?

Martin Blessing

FFor most of them, Martin Blessing is the face of the financial crisis: with beads of sweat on his high forehead when he is insulted by shareholders as “zero”, “capital destroyer” and “total failure” at the Commerzbank general meeting. That was tough, even if Blessing certainly showed bad timing when he agreed to buy Dresdner Bank as CEO of Commerzbank in September 2008 – fourteen days before Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, which led to the escalation of the financial crisis. Blessing then had to go to the Soffin bank rescue fund twice. Without its government money of 18.2 billion euros, the Commerzbank, which was doubled in size thanks to Dresdner Bank and can hardly be navigated, would have broken. The boulevard ridiculed Blessing as a state banker because his salary was capped at 500,000 euros a year.

But Blessing has shown backbone even in these tough days. With diligence and perseverance, which he also showed in his free time as a marathon runner, the Bremen native led Commerzbank until he left the Swiss bank UBS in May 2016 after winning billions. But to this day Commerzbank, which is still partially nationalized, is repeatedly thrown back in its restructuring, the share price has lost 90 percent since the state entry and is lower than when Blessing left.