Deutsche Bank (DB) shares fell sharply Thursday after the Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Reserve has deemed the German lender's U.S. operations as "troubled" in a previously written assessment that hasn't been made public.
The assessment effectively meant that the bank, Germany's largest, has had to clear many operational decisions through Fed officials in either Washington or New York for at least the past year, the WSJ noted, citing sources familiar with the matter. Reports of the Fed assessment follow Deutsche Bank's planned reduction of its U.S. equity and bond market trading divisions and significant jobs cuts under Christian Sewing as the new CEO attempts to reverse years of losses and a loss of investor faith in one of Europe's most important lenders.
"As a matter of policy, we do not comment on specific regulatory feedback," Deutsche Bank said in a statement to TheStreet. "The ultimate parent of the Deutsche Bank Group, Deutsche Bank AG, is very well capitalized and has significant liquidity reserves. The entities named in the article are three specific U.S. subsidiaries - DB USA Corp, Deutsche Bank Trust Corporation, and Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, our principal U.S. banking subsidiary, which has a very robust balance sheet as disclosed in our annual and quarterly regulatory filings."
"We have previously indicated that our regulators have identified various areas for improvement relating to our control environment and infrastructure. We are highly focused on addressing identified weaknesses in our U.S. operations," the statement added.
Deutsche Bank shares were marked 5.71% lower in Frankfurt following the report and changing hands at an all-time low of €9.36 each. The move puts the stock's year-to-date decline past 1% compared to the 10.93% decline for the Stoxx Europe 600 Banks index.
Deutsche Bank said last week that its global staffing numbers would fall "well below 90,000" following the job cuts, most of which would take place in London and New York, adding that other business reductions and restructuring would reduce the bank's overall leverage by 10%, or €100 billion, by the end of the year. The bank's overall cost base is expected to fall to €23 billion this year and €22 billion in 2019, Deutsche Bank said, although "no further significant disposals" are currently planned.
"We remain committed to our Corporate & Investment Bank and our international presence - we are unwavering in that," said new CEO Christian Sewing in a statement ahead of the bank's annual general meeting in Frankfurt. "We are Europe's alternative in the international financing and capital markets business. However, we must concentrate on what we truly do well."
"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."
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%.
Sewing, a longtime Deutsche Bank executive, replaced the beleaguered John Cryan last 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.