Deutsche Bank shares slump further as fallout from bad press continues
Deutsche Bank shares slid to fresh lows as its boss announced “tough cutbacks” for the investment bank following a fraught year of money laundering allegations, failed merger talks, and lawsuits by Donald Trump.
At a marathon annual shareholders’ meeting in Frankfurt that lasted more than eight hours, chief executive Christian Sewing said the bank would push ahead with a further €1bn (£880m) in cost cuts this year, following similar moves in 2018 that led to 6,000 job losses.
Sewing, who has been in the job for just over a year, said Deutsche has already slashed €130bn from the investment bank balance sheet. “So I can assure you: we’re prepared to make tough cutbacks,” he said.
But investors fired a warning shot at the board, with 25% refusing to endorse the chief executive’s performance over the past year and 29% voting against the chair, Paul Achleitner. Shareholders are angry over a maelstrom of bad news that has caused a major slump in the bank’s share price.
Deutsche Bank’s shares fell to fresh lows of €6.35 per share on Thursday. The stock – which hit €107 before the 2008 banking crisis – has lost more than 40% of its value in the past 10 months.
Sewing insisted: “No one’s more disappointed with our stock market performance than I am,” and assured he would “work with all my strength to boost our share price”.
It did not stop investors from complaining at the AGM, with more than one shareholder lamenting the shares are now worth less than a pack of cigarettes.
Deutsche Bank has suffered multiple blows to its reputation over the past year, having failed US bank stress tests, suffered downgrades to its investment grade ratings, and seen merger talks with its smaller German rival Commerzbank collapse.
German police also raided Deutsche Bank’s offices in November as part of a money laundering investigation linked to Panama Papers revelations.
Sewing said the raid made global headlines that were “severely damaging” for the bank. He went on to criticise Frankfurt authorities for the way they handled the investigation. “Even now, months later, we still have no concrete evidence that would support the allegations against us or any of our employees,” he said.
“However, the public reaction to the investigations by the public prosecutor’s office has once again demonstrated one point clearly: we must further strengthen our controls.”
Deutsche Bank was forced to admit earlier this week that software used to screen customer transactions for money laundering was faulty. It means some potentially suspicious transactions were not flagged to authorities.
That revelation followed a report by the New York Times that said Deutsche Bank executives blocked employees from raising suspicious activity reports on entities controlled by Trump and Jared Kushner between 2016 and 2017.
Deutsche Bank is also being sued by the US president in an attempt to block the release of documents detailing his personal finances.
Influential shareholder advisers ISS and Glass Lewis urged shareholders to reject reports detailing the work of both the management and supervisory reports in 2018.
However, ISS recommended rejecting shareholder-submitted resolutions calling for the removal of Achleitner and no-confidence votes against three management board members. Glass Lewis called for abstentions in the vote against the chair.