Commerzbank has today posted a 28% rise in first-quarter net earnings, benefiting from a positive one-off effect in its run-off unit. 

The €217m net profit of Germany's second-largest listed lender after Deutsche Bank was ahead of analysts' expectations for €107m. 

Commerzbank said it aimed to keep its cost base stable and book the first part of restructuring charges this year, with stable loan loss provisions in its core business. 

"It is clear that it will take some time for our growth to be sufficient to significantly outweigh the burden resulting from the negative interest rate environment", the bank's chief executive Martin Zielke said. 

Operating earnings at Commerzbank's cash cow corporate clients unit, which caters to Germany's prized small and medium-sized companies and includes the lender's investment banking activities, was down 18% on a weak capital market business. 

The lender has launched a €6 billion loan offering for small and medium-sized companies as it seeks to benefit from growing loan demand in anticipation of rising interest rates.

The retail bank saw a decline in operating profit by 34% due to pressure on its deposits business, where negative interest rates weighed, and a higher banking tax in Poland. 

Despite an increase in provisions for bad ship loans, Commerzbank's Asset & Capital Recovery unit posted a sharp increase in operating earnings as the value of a public finance portfolio, which had been written off recovered.