Deutsche Bank Plans 'Significant' Job Cuts as Q1 Profits Slump

Deutsche Bank AG (DB) said Thursday that it's planning "significant" job cuts for its global investment banking division, including a retreat from some non-European markets, as it moves to slash costs and trim its balance sheet under new CEO Christian Sewing.

The moves follow the bank's first quarter earnings report, which showed net income falling to €120 million, down 79% from the same period last year and well shy of the FactSet compiled forecast of €377 million euros. The bank's core tier one capital ratio, a measure of the cash it can set aside to cover potential losses, slipped 60 basis points from the end of last year to 13.4%.

"Our Corporate & Investment Bank is also doing well in some areas and held or gained market share in certain areas," Sewing said. "However, we are not strong enough in other areas of this business. Therefore we have to act decisively and to adjust our strategy. There is no time to lose as the current returns for our shareholders are not acceptable."

Deutsche Bank shares fell 3% in the opening minutes of trading in Frankfurt to change hands at €11.60 each in Frankfurt Wednesday to extend their year-to-date decline to 27%

Deutsche Bank said its management board "reiterates its commitment to keep the adjusted cost base for 2018 below 23 billion euros" and will begin a "significant reduction in workforce through the rest of the year". 

"Deutsche Bank is deeply rooted in Europe - here we want to provide our clients access to global financing and treasury solutions," Sewing said. "This is what we will focus on more decisively going forward." The reduction in headcount is "painful but regrettably unavoidable to ensure our bank's competitiveness in the long run."

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Sewing, a longtime Deutsche Bank executive, replaced the beleaguered John Cryan earlier this month after a boardroom battle stemming from the bank's inability to execute a turnaround plan following an €8 billion rights issue that marked a new corporate-wide strategy designed to halt years of losses and a sustained share price slump.

In February, Deutsche Bank said it would list the Deutsche Asset Management Unit (DWS) arm on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange "in the earliest available window" and likely use the cash to bolster its balance sheet and regulatory capital position as Cryan rolled the dice on his final major decision as head of Europe's biggest lender.

Deutsche Bank, however, has lost more than two thirds of its market cap over the past five years and more than 30% since it unveiled its capital raising plan on March 2 2017 and said it would sell around €80 billion in legacy assets from its Global Markets division following a $7.2 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice linked to with the bank's mortgage bond activities in the run up to the global financial crisis.

Earlier this month, Hainan Jiaoguan Holding Co., better known as HNA, cut its stake to 7.9% from a previous holding of 9.9% and fell below the Qatari royal family as Deutsche Bank's biggest investor.

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