Ian Banwell has started his new role as chief executive of Hamburg Commercial Bank (HCOB) with a promise to boost profit.

The German shipping lender’s former chief financial officer replaced Stefan Ermisch on 1 October. Marc Ziegner becomes CFO.

The 59-year-old Banwell said: “We have accomplished a great deal over the past few years, and I look forward to continuing to work with my fellow board members Christopher Brody, Ulrik Lackschewitz and Marc Ziegner, and the entire staff.

“Our bank is profitable and robustly positioned and we are achieving very positive results in a challenging market. We remain focused on executing our strategy and aim to make the bank even more profitable in the future,” he added.

Banwell joined the management board as chief operating officer in 2019 and took on the finance role in September 2020.

He had previously worked at Bank of America, where he was chief investment officer, chairman of the asset and liability committee and a member of the management committee.

Banwell has also chaired the US treasury’s borrowing advisory committee.

“Ian Banwell has performed excellent work as CFO/COO of Hamburg Commercial Bank over the past three and a half years and contributed significantly to the successful transformation of the bank,” said Juan Inciarte, the lender’s chairman.

“I am delighted that he is now taking over the position of chief executive officer and I am convinced that he will bring outstanding and forward-looking leadership to HCOB. I wish him and Marc Ziegner, who has already been with the bank for around two decades, every success,” Inciarte added.

Ziegner joined in 2001 and since 2019 has been responsible for bank steering at HCOB.

Surprise resignation

Ex-CEO Ermisch resigned in August, marking the end of an era for the former HSH Nordbank, once the world’s largest ship financier.

The 56-year-old remained chairman of the management board and CEO until 30 September.

Ermisch oversaw the $1.2bn sale of the former state-controlled bank in November 2018 to a consortium led by Cerberus Capital Management and JC Flowers.

This was the first privatisation of a bank in Germany.

The move was seen as a surprise in banking circles and did little to dampen rumours that Cerberus has been looking to sell its stake in the lender.

In March, Handelsblatt reported that investment bank Morgan Stanley had begun to sound out several financial institutions on behalf of the owners to see whether they are interested in taking over HCOB.

The discussions were labelled initial exploratory talks and not yet a formal sales process.

While the bank’s shipping portfolio is a fraction of the size it was a decade ago, HCOB remains a significant player in shipping markets.

The maritime book benefitted from strong demand for shipping services in the first six months of the year.

Total income of the shipping division rose to €82m ($83m) in the first half of the year, compared with €72m in the same period last year.

Net income after tax rose 25% to €38m for the division, up from €30m in the previous corresponding period.