Deutsche Bank’s investment bank chief exits in unfolding multi-billion dollar overhaul

The Deutsche Bank headquarters are seen in Frankfurt, Germany, October 29, 2015. — Reuters pic
The Deutsche Bank headquarters are seen in Frankfurt, Germany, October 29, 2015. — Reuters pic

FRANKFURT, July 5 — Deutsche Bank said its investment bank head agreed to step down today in a sign of the division’s waning influence as Germany’s largest lender readies a multi-billion dollar restructuring aimed at reversing a decline in its fortunes.

Chief Executive Christian Sewing will represent the investment bank on Deutsche Bank’s board following the departure of the division’s boss Garth Ritchie, who has been a deputy CEO with a board seat, the Frankfurt-based bank said in a statement.

The removal of a separate board-level representative for the investment bank signals Deutsche Bank’s determination to reduce its influence and the effects on the business of its fluctuating fortunes, which have long been a bone of contention in Germany.

Deutsche Bank’s investment bank has been central to its strategy for years, leading it to maintain a large presence on Wall Street when other European rivals scaled back.

A wider overhaul, one of several in recent years, signals that Deutsche Bank is coming to terms with its failure to keep pace with Wall Street’s big hitters such as JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.

Ritchie’s departure and the change in board representation are just two elements of a sweeping, multi-billion dollar overhaul that Deutsche Bank is planning to unveil in the coming days, a month after its shares hit a record low.

Sewing flagged an extensive revamp in May, promising shareholders “tough cutbacks” to the investment bank after Deutsche Bank failed to agree a merger with cross-town rival Commerzbank.

Deutsche Bank’s supervisory board is expected to meet on Sunday to discuss the restructuring, which could see as many as 20,000 job cuts, with New York and London bearing the brunt.

The lender is still hammering out details on a variety of issues, with the exact makeup of a trimmer management board one unanswered question, people familiar with matter said.

Among other measures the bank is examining is the creation of a separate “corporate bank” to streamline services now spread across the lender, two people familiar with the matter said.

It is also planning to set up a “bad bank” to hold tens of billions of euros of non-core assets.

Board revamp

Sewing wants to reduce the size of the bank’s nine-member management board and the bank is still haggling over this, a person with knowledge of the matter said today.

The revamp is expected to cost the bank up to €5 billion.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the plans for a corporate bank division.

At present a single corporate customer may have accounts with Deutsche Bank’s private and commercial bank, the transaction bank and the investment bank.

The effort would seek to reduce overlap and the new division would have a seat on the board, the people said, confirming news first reported by the Sueddeutsche newspaper.

The new corporate bank would include the transaction bank, which has been a segment of the investment bank, they said.

The transaction bank provides everyday banking services important for the finances of corporations, such as international payments. Sewing has talked up the unit over the past year as a source of stable revenue.

The investment bank, which has lost revenue and market share over past years, is expected to bear the brunt of the cuts in the overhaul package. — Reuters

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