Commerzbank said Friday it is slashing employee bonuses for 2012 with chief executive Martin Blessing forgoing his altogether following the bank's "unsatisfactory" performance last year.
"As a consequence of the unsatisfactory net profit, variable remuneration as a whole for 2012 will be 17.2 percent lower than in the previous year," Commerzbank said in a statement.
In the investment banking division alone, bonuses were cut by around 20 percent.
The move -- which affects all employees including the executive board -- helped bring down personnel costs last year by 5.3 percent to 3.96 billion euros ($5.3 billion) and comes after a similar bonus cut of 12.1 percent in 2011.
"We are following a clear principle: the greater the responsibility, the lower the variable remuneration by comparison," Commerzbank said.
Indeed, CEO Blessing had already informed the bank's supervisory board in December that he would forego "all his claims from variable remuneration for 2012," it added.
Germany's second-biggest lender confirmed its disappointing 2012 results, already released earlier this month.
Net profit came out at only 6.0 million euros for the whole year compared with 638 million euros a year earlier, after heavy writedowns pushed it into the red in the fourth quarter.
However, underlying earnings, as measured by operating profit, increased to 1.2 billion euros in 2012 from 507 million euros.
Last month, Commerzbank said it will axe 4,000-6,000 jobs -- or more than one in 10 of its workforce -- over the next three years as it tots up the toll from the financial and sovereign debt crisis.
CEO Blessing told a news conference that "up to 3,400 jobs" could go in Commerzbank's retail or high-street banking division, which is suffering from low profitability.
Nevertheless, "the aim is to restructure the branches rather than shut them down," he insisted
"Talks with the works council are not easy, but they're constructive... (and) at the end of the day I hope we'll reach a compromise by the summer, but it could be later," Blessing said.
And he added: "2013 won't be an easy year. But I'm convinced our strategy is right."
Commerzbank shares were the biggest gainers on the Frankfurt stock exchange on Friday, adding 2.65 percent in a fractionally weaker market.