Deutsche Bank says first quarter challenging for entire sector

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank DBKGn.DE has warned that volatile financial markets in the first quarter, normally a strong season for banks, posed a challenge for the entire sector.

The logo of Deutsche Bank is seen in Naples, Italy February 22, 2016. Reuters/Tony Gentile - RTS8YWP

“Deutsche Bank is no exception to this. Nonetheless, in this period of market turbulence, Deutsche Bank remains very solid,” Chief Executive John Cryan said in the lender’s annual report published on Friday.

Deutsche Bank’s comments chime with those of other investment banks, which have cautioned investors to expect lower results for the first three months as customers issued less debt and equity on fears about the state of the global economy.

Citigroup C.N earlier this week said that its first-quarter investment banking revenue is off by 25 percent compared with the strong year-earlier period, as both trading and new issuance have been impacted by the market rout.

JPMorgan JPM.N last month signaled a rough first quarter with double-digit declines in investment banking revenues as companies are either shying away from or unable to issue debt and equity and investors are reluctant to take on more risk.

After posting a record loss for 2015 Cryan in late January urged investors to be patient with his revamp of Germany’s largest lender.

While Cryan has embarked on a mission to clean up the bank and put past scandals behind it, he faces an uphill battle in light of stubbornly low interest rates, plummeting oil prices, pressure from regulators and a slowdown in China.

Despite vows to bring down costs, Deutsche Bank’s total compensation for employees increased 5 percent to 10.5 billion euros ($11.7 billion) in 2015 as the number of employees rose by 3,000 to 101,104.

The lender said it hired specialists for compliance, legal, and audit functions as well as in areas it has identified as growth businesses.

However, most staff faced bonus cuts. Total 2015 variable compensation was down 17 percent at 2.4 billion euros, while it decreased 20 percent in the investment bank. Management board members’ bonuses were scrapped altogether.

Co-CEO Juergen Fitschen took home a total of 3.8 million euros last year while Cryan, who took the helm only in July, pocketed 1.9 million euros.

($1 = 0.8997 euros)

Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Ludwig Burger and Keith Weir