Bloomberg News

DUSSELDORF, Germany - Citibank Privatkunden AG, the German branch unit of Citigroup Inc., said it plans to hire more staff as the country's biggest banks shed jobs and consider mergers.

The Dusseldorf bank, which has some 5,200 employees, is looking for 200 managers and investment advisers for its 300 branches. Citibank also plans to quadruple the number of advisers who visit customers to offer retirement plans and investment advice to 80, a spokesman said.

The hiring plan was announced as Deutsche Bank AG and Dresdner Bank AG are shedding employees in retail banking and Dresdner discusses a merger with Commerzbank AG that could mean thousands more job cuts.

"We're using this as an opportunity," said Mirko Kaminski, a spokesman for Citibank Privatkunden. "It's difficult to get good, qualified people. We're expanding and we need staff."

Germany's biggest banks like Deutsche Bank AG, Dresdner, and Commerzbank, have struggled to boost returns from their branch networks, as the market is dominated by state-owned and mutual institutions that are not under the same pressure to lift profits.

Dresdner, the country's No. 3 bank, plans to slash 5,000 jobs and shut one of every four of its German branches to try to double profits by 2003. The number of securities accounts at Citibank Privatkunden rose 28% in the five months through May 31, to 250,000, the company said in a statement.

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