Deutsche Bank CEO prepares investment bank cuts as shares hit low

Credit: REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

By Tom Sims

FRANKFURT, May 23 (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank's DBKGn.DE chief executive said on Thursday that he was ready to make "tough cutbacks" to its investment bank, whose future is in doubt after several failed restructurings.

Shares in Deutsche Bank hit a record low as Christian Sewing kicked off its annual meeting, where he will face questions from shareholders over its strategy and leadership.

Major investors over the past week have called for Deutsche Bank to scale back its sprawling global investment banking business.

"We will accelerate transformation by rigorously focusing our bank on profitable and growing businesses which are particularly relevant to our clients," Sewing said.

"We're prepared to make tough cutbacks," he said, without elaborating on where the cuts would occur.

Deutsche Bank's struggling equities division, which is mainly in New York and London and saw steep cutbacks last year, is a target, and prime brokerage that serves hedge funds is also under scrutiny, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

Shares in the bank hit a new low on Thursday, trading 3% lower to 6.42 euros at 1048 GMT. Deutsche Bank's shares are down 38% since last year's shareholder meeting.

Deutsche Bank has been plagued by failed regulatory tests, ratings downgrades, big fines and management reshuffles in recent years and posted its first profit in four years in 2018.

The bank was already facing a potential rocky ride at this year's gathering after two advisory groups to shareholders - Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis - urged them to issue a vote of no confidence in management.

The bank is facing tough questions after it and Commerzbank last month abandoned their talks to merge.

In past days, top shareholders have also said that the bank's chairman, Paul Achleitner, should step down before his term ends in 2022.

One small but vocal investor last month added to the meeting's agenda a vote to oust Achleitner because the bank "remains trapped in an unbroken downward spiral". The supervisory board issued a statement backing its chairman.

In an interview published in a German newspaper, the bank sought to fend off some of the expected criticism.

Deutsche Bank will remain in the United States, which is primarily part of the investment bank division, finance chief James von Moltke said in an interview with Boersen-Zeitung published on Thursday.

But it was regularly looking for alternatives to lift growth and cut costs at the investment division, he added.

(Reporting by Tom Sims; editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Alexander Smith)

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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