Deutsche Bank Tops DAX Amid Asset Management IPO Speculation, Rare Upgrade

Deutsche Bank (DB) shares jumped to the top of the market in Germany Wednesday as investors reacted to reports of a potential wealth management spin-off and a rare recent upgrade as the country's biggest lender struggles to convince investors of its turnaround potential following last year's $10 billion cash call.

Deutsche shares rose more than 1% in Frankfurt trading and were one of only two stocks in positive territory on the DAX performance index, which is down more than 0.9% on the session, following a change in Bank of America's rating on the stock to "neutral" from "underperform" late last night. Deutsche Bank shares were changing hands at €13.55 each by mid-day, the highest since Feb. 5.

"The structural problems at (Deutsche Bank) remain considerable and will likely take more time to fix, which we see as limiting the potential upside," the BofA said. "However, some near-term relief from a better trading backdrop is to be welcomed and may arrest the poor performance of the shares" so far this year.

Deutsche Bank has fallen 14.5% so far this year -- compared to a modest 1.08% gain for the Stoxx Europe Banks subindex -- and more than 30% since it unveiled an €8 billion ($10.46 billion) capital raising plan on March 2 2017 and said it would sell around €80 billion in legacy assets from its Global Markets division and look to partially spin-off of its Deutsche Asset Management Unit (DWS) 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.

Its problems have been compounded by both a reported leadership spat between CEO John Cryan and chairman Paul Achleitner and a three-year run of annual losses that have shaken investor faith in its ability to turn around. Late last week, Hainan Jiaoguan Holding Co., better known as HNA, cut its stake to 8.8% from a previous holding of 9.9% and fell below the Qatari royal family as Deutsche Bank's biggest investor. 

As part of what appears to be a broader cost-cutting effort, Reuters reported last week that the bank is looking to cut as many as 500 positions in its investment banking division and noted Tuesday that its spin-off of DWS, in the form of an initial public offering, could come as early as next week. Reuters said Deutsche Bank will sell around 25% of the unit for as much as €2 billion, and list the shares on the Frankfurt stock exchange.  

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