Deutsche Bank CEO stands by global ambitions

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank DBKGn.DE has no plans to give up its global presence, its chief executive said on Wednesday, despite sizeable job cuts to try and revive profitability.

Christian Sewing, new CEO of Germany's Deutsche Bank, addresses the audience during the bank's annual meeting in Frankfurt, Germany, May 24, 2018. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Since taking the helm in April, Christian Sewing has announced plans to cut the lender’s global equities business, as well as U.S. bond trading and its business that serves hedge funds.

Speaking at a banking conference in Frankfurt, Sewing said this should not be seen as a sign of retrenchment.

“Our global ambitions will not be up for debate under my leadership,” he said, adding a raft of political crises around the world made it important that Deutsche Bank supported its customers in their global business.

“I am quite convinced that this global position is just as important for our economy today as it was after the fall of the (Berlin) Wall.”

In times of tension between Europe and the United States, Sewing said he believed it would be “too risky” to leave the role of financing and risk management up to a few non-European banks.

Deutsche Bank is trying to bounce back from three consecutive years of losses and has had a run of negative headlines, including an abrupt management reshuffle, a downgrade by credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s and failing the U.S. Federal Reserve’s stress test.

Sewing said Germany’s largest lender did not have ambitions to return to its status as a world market leader, as it was prior to the global financial crisis.

“It would be wrong to say we wanted to be number 1, 2 or 3. Of course we can’t,” he said. Instead the aim is to keep its top positions in certain businesses, such as payment transactions, euro and dollar clearing, and foreign exchange trading.

For this reason, Deutsche Bank needs to remain active in investment banking, he said.

Sewing’s main aim is to restore profitability at the bank and he said the company needed to make “clear progress” on this in the next 12-18 months.

Sewing said he expected the pressure for banks to consolidate to increase as the sector faces the tougher regulation, digitalization and changes in customer behavior.

“Europe doesn’t need as many banks as possible. It especially needs strong banks,” he said.

He declined to comment on speculation that Deutsche Bank could merge with local rival Commerzbank CBKG.DE.

Reporting by Andreas Framke; Writing by Caroline Copley and Mark Potter