June 16, 2019 / 8:15 PM / 3 months ago

Deutsche Bank to set up 50 billion euro bad bank in revamp

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank is planning to overhaul its trading operations by creating a so-called bad bank to hold tens of billions of euros of non-core assets, a source close to the matter said on Monday.

The overhaul, first reported by the Financial Times, will also include shrinking or shutting equity and rates trading businesses outside of Europe.

The bad bank would house or sell assets valued at up to 50 billion euros ($56 billion)- after adjusting for risk - and comprising mainly long-dated derivatives.

The measures are part of a significant restructuring of the investment bank, a major source of revenue for Germany’s largest lender, which has struggled to generate sustainable profits since the 2008 financial crisis.

It is trying to turn itself around, but has faced hurdles such as allegations of money laundering and failed stress tests.

Its attempt to create a German champion through a merger with Commerzbank failed in April.

In May, Chief Executive Officer Christian Sewing promised shareholders “tough cutbacks” at its underperforming investment bank.

Shares in Deutsche, which have recently traded at record lows, were up 1.4% in late trading in Frankfurt, shedding some of their gains but still topping the list of German blue-chip companies.

Deutsche said in an emailed statement in response to the FT report that it was “working on measures to accelerate its transformation so as to improve its sustainable profitability. We will update all stakeholders if and when required”.

The restructuring costs will force the bank to officially walk away from a key profitability target, Germany’s Handelsblatt reported separately later on Monday.

The bank had aimed for a 4% return on tangible equity, but most analysts have long believed the bank would miss the target.

The bank declined to comment on the Handelsblatt report.

The effort by Sewing to overhaul the bank marks a further shift by the German lender away from investment banking to focus on more stable forms of revenue, such as transaction banking.

FILE PHOTO: Employees of Germany’s largest business bank, Deutsche Bank, gather ahead of the bank’s annual shareholder meeting in Frankfurt, Germany, May 23, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

The bank is planning cuts at its U.S. equities business, including prime brokerage and equity derivatives, to win over shareholders unhappy about its performance, four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters in May.

Deutsche created a similar division for non-core investments in 2012 with 128 billion euros in risk-weighted assets. Deutsche wound up the unit nearly four years later, in 2016.

Sewing is expected to announce changes in July. The bank reports second-quarter earnings on July 24.

Reporting by Tom Sims and Hans Seidenstuecker in Frankfurt, and Ishita Chigilli Palli and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Kathrin Jones/Louise Heavens and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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