Deutsche Bank’s chairman and top management are expected to face the ire of investors when they gather in Frankfurt Thursday for the bank’s annual general meeting. The German lender, which recently reported its first full-year loss since 2008, is faced with a double challenge of generating profits and slashing costs — an unenviable task co-CEO John Cryan has been struggling to carry out since he donned the hat less than a year ago.
“The mood’s going to be bad, maybe even worse than at last year’s meeting,” Klaus Nieding, vice president of the German investor association DSW, told Bloomberg.
Last year, just weeks after shareholders of the Frankfurt-based bank expressed their ire over drying profits and rising litigation costs, its co-CEOs Anshu Jain and Jürgen Fitschen stepped down. Since then, Cryan, who has been openly critical of the company’s perceived shortcomings, has embarked on a massive overhaul — one that involves fast-tracking legal settlements, cutting costs, raising capital buffers and even buying back over $5 billion in outstanding debt.
Deutsche Bank has already paid billions of dollars in fines and settlements over accusations that it colluded with other banks to fix benchmark interest rates, and violated international sanctions against countries like Iran. In 2015, the total amount it earmarked as litigation cost stood at a staggering 5.2 billion euros ($5.66 billion).
Earlier this year, it reported a net loss of 6.8 billion euros in 2015 — the German lender’s first full-year loss since 2008 — after it set aside money for litigation and wrote down the value of its investment banking and consumer banking units. The reported loss was in line with the figures previously forecast by Cryan, who cited “challenging market conditions” for decline in annual and fourth-quarter revenue.
In the first quarter of 2016, the bank’s net income fell 58 percent and revenues dropped 22 percent.
“We are giving Cryan the benefit of the doubt,” a Deutsche Bank investor, whose name was not revealed, told Reuters.
Even if Cryan is spared the ire of investors, Paul Achleitner — chairman of the bank’s supervisory board — probably won’t be as lucky. The supervisory board’s internal conflict spilled into the open in April, when its deputy chairman publicly criticized the “overzealousness” of another member Georg Thoma — who later resigned — in investigating potential wrongdoings at the bank.
“Achleitner will likely prevail at this year's AGM, but I would not be surprised if he is replaced some time later this year,” another investor, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters. “He's a good organizer, very consensus-oriented. But the bank has been in a permanent crisis mode for a long time and needs someone who puts his foot down.”