New Deutsche Bank CEO Pressured to Live Up to 'Turnaround King' Reputation

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- John Cryan, Deutsche Bank's (DB) newly appointed CEO, has his work cut out for him. Fortunately, his track record shows messes are precisely the type of work Cryan is best suited for -- he was named CFO at UBS (UBS) in 2008 and earned a reputation for steering the bank through the financial crisis.

Cryan will become a co-CEO of Deutsche Bank on July 1 and hold the post on his own after the bank's shareholder meeting in May 2016. As for his co-CEO predecessors, Anshu Jain's resignation is effective at the end of this month, though he will continue as a consultant through January, and Jürgen Fitschen's resignation will take effect after the 2016 meeting. 

Jurgen and Fitschen announced their departures on Sunday. During their three-year tenure, the bank faced a variety of challenges including regulatory probes. In April, the Frankfurt-based bank agreed to pay $2.5 billion to U.S. and U.K. investigations of its role in fixing benchmark rates. While many banks paid hefty fines for misdeeds, they also set aside appropriate reserves for legal fees and were able to deliver pre-recession era earnings. Deutsche Bank's 2014 earnings were 74% lower than before the financial crisis.

Perhaps the true sign that it was over for the co-CEOs came in May at the bank's annual shareholder meeting, where only 61% of investors voted in favor of the management team. Shareholder dissatisfaction did not go unnoticed. The bank responded by shuffling around some of its management soon afterward. 

"The public image of Deutsche Bank is heavily tarnished and damaged," Deutsche Bank's Chairman Paul Achleitner said at the meeting. "No one can be satisfied with the public image and share-price performance."

While it may take time for Deutsche Bank stock to reach its former highs, the company has already benefited from the announcement of Cryan's hiring. Shares climbed 4% to 28.64 euros in Frankfurt on Monday, and gained 4.6% to $32.05 as of midday in New York.

 

Deutsche Bank said Sunday that co-CEOs Anshu Jain, left, and Jürgen Fitschen are resigning.

"We see John Cryan as potentially an execution-oriented, numbers-focused CEO, as he has demonstrated previously at UBS," Kian Abouhossein, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase (JPM) said in a note on Monday.

Cryan is the right leader to deliver on the bank's Strategy 2020 plan, a sweeping effort to improve performance through reorganization and cost cuts, Abouhossein said. The plan replaces Strategy 2015+, an effort launched in 2012 that achieved only limited success. The new strategy has a six-point plan, which Deutsche Bank detailed in an April statement:

  • Build a more focused, relationship-driven investment bank;
  • Reshape the retail business to focus on an advisory-led model and either spin off or sell Postbank;
  • Deploy digital technology across the platform;
  • Invest to speed growth in Global Transaction Banking and Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management;
  • Exit or reduce its presence in some countries;
  • Alter its operating model to achieve higher efficiency, reduced complexity and better resilience.

"We expect John Cryan to focus in particular on delivery on cost savings," Abouhossein said in the JPMorgan report. Since his predecessors missed targets, investors will want to see evidence of cost reduction, and Cryan "has a proven track record in turning UBS around as its CFO and is highly regarded by the market," Abouhossein wrote.

During Cryan's tenure as finance chief at UBS, the bank cut several thousand jobs and moved its focus to wealth management, instead of riskier investment banking activities. Earnings improved significantly during the period: The bank posted net income of 4.16 billion Swiss francs in 2011, compared with a loss of 21.3 billion francs in 2008.

 

Investors and analysts hope he will build on that turnaround record at Deutsche. Cryan is no stranger to the company, having joined its supervisory board in 2013 and served as chairman of the audit committee and a member of the risk committee, which JPMorgan considers key positions. Cryan also helped draft Strategy 2020.

Deutsche Bank's stock performance will be driven by Cryan's success in leaving businesses that no longer mesh with the bank's strategy, trimming under-performing lending and delivering 3.5 billion euros in gross cost savings that Deutsche is targeting under Strategy 2020, Abouhossein wrote. 


  

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