UPDATE 3-Commerzbank tells investors to brace for more legal charges

jueves 12 de febrero de 2015 08:56 GYT

* Revenue before loan losses shrinks to 2.185 bln euros in Q4

* Pledges to reach 10 pct ROE in core bank by 2016

* Cost/income ratio weakens to 81 pct in final quarter (Adds investor reaction)

By Thomas Atkins and Arno Schuetze

FRANKFURT, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Commerzbank AG has told investors to brace for higher legal charges after adding close to half a billion euros to its legal reserves in 2014, as negotiations with U.S. authorities over alleged rules breaches near completion.

Commerzbank said on Thursday it had put aside 1.4 billion euros ($1.6 billion) in total for potential costs, related in part to negotiations with U.S. authorities over alleged sanctions violations stemming from transactions with Iran, and accounting fraud at Japan's Olympus Corp.

The lender had been primed to settle with U.S. regulators and prosecutors by late 2014 and rising legal costs threaten to stall its recovery plan.

The bank performed well on an operating level, said Helmut Hipper, senior portfolio manager at Union Investment. "But costs for legal issues are going to remain burdensome for a while," he added.

"We should see a settlement sooner rather than later," Chief Financial Officer Stephan Engels said after the bank posted a higher-than-expected fourth-quarter net profit of 77 million euros ($87 million), due in part to smaller loan-loss provisions.   Continuación...