Deutsche CEO faces investor pressure on investment bank: sources

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank said it has done enough to get its investment bank back on track as Chief Executive Christian Sewing came under renewed pressure from top investors.

FILE PHOTO: The financial district with the headquarters of Germany's largest business bank, Deutsche Bank , is photographed on early evening in Frankfurt, Germany, January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

“We completed our adjustments ahead of schedule and now have a good foundation for growth,” the bank said in an emailed statement on Thursday.

One major investor wants Sewing, who is less than a year in office, to act more quickly to turn around its investment bank, a person familiar with its thinking told Reuters.

A second top investor thinks that the U.S. investment banking business is still too big and contributes too little to Germany’s biggest lender, another person said.

“‎We have adjusted our footprint in our Corporate & Investment Bank and in the U.S. already in 2018, including reducing our leverage exposure by more than 100 billion euros,” the bank said, after a Financial Times report on the demands.

Sewing last year trimmed the investment bank, mainly affecting the equities division and the business that serves hedge funds in New York and London.

However, the Financial Times reported that four of the bank’s 10 biggest shareholders want the lender to make further cuts at its investment division, particularly the United States.

The FT report, citing unidentified sources, said at least four members of Deutsche Bank’s supervisory board shared the view.

Neither of the people familiar with the thinking of the two major investors elaborated on the specific changes they want.

Shareholders were split into three camps, the person familiar with the thinking of the second investor told Reuters.

“There are those who are calling for a merger with Commerzbank, others who would prefer to split up the bank and another that wants a managed downsizing, which would include a shrinking of the U.S. investment bank,” the person said.

Weak earnings among Germany’s largest banks have heightened speculation that the German government may engineer a merger of the country’s two biggest lenders.

For Deutsche Bank, a bigger than expected loss in the fourth quarter and weakness at its investment bank overshadowed news earlier this month of its first annual profit in four years.

Revenue at the investment bank dropped 5 percent in the fourth quarter.

Reporting by Andreas Framke and Tom Sims; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, Gopakumar Warrier and Alexander Smith