Deutsche Bank faces shareholder ire at annual meeting

21st May 2015, Comments 0 comments

Deutsche Bank, Germany's biggest lender, faced the wrath of shareholders over its poor profitability and wave of scandals at the annual meeting Thursday, while promising to make improvements.

"We have made progress, but our work is not complete... We know you are disappointed," one of the co-chief executives Anshu Jain told around 4,000 shareholders who attended the meeting in Frankfurt's trade fair hall.

"We have a clear strategy.... We are convinced we are on the right path."

Shareholders, however, did not appear to be convinced.

"Management should step down. The horrendous fines are eating away profits and as a result there's no money left for sensible projects," complained one small-time investor, Walter Liehmann.

"I'm deeply disappointed and frustrated," said another, Peter Simm.

Deutsche Bank's good reputation was "in tatters. People who bought the bank's shares for their pensions are the fools," Simm said.

The two CEOs, Jain and Juergen Fitschen, are both under fire because the bank has so far failed to meet its profit targets for this year.

But Fitschen insisted that the bank was working on being "better capitalised, and less leveraged. more focused, and as a result more cost-efficient."

But he conceded that the bank had not "delivered, so far, the returns you expect and deserve."

Deutsche Bank, which employs a workforce of more than 98,000 and has annual revenues of some 32 billion euros ($36 billion), is torn between its ambitions in investment banking, on the one hand, and its historic domestic retail banking network on the other.

Despite substantial efforts to cut costs and diversify, the bank continues to lag a long way behind its Anglo-Saxon rivals.

Shareholders are more enraged, however, over the perceived failure of Jain and Fitschen to throw off the scandals dating back to the reign of their predecessor Josef Ackermann.

Deutsche Bank is mired in around 6,000 different litigation cases and was recently fined a record $2.5 billion for its involvement in an interest rate-rigging scandal.

"There is no doubt that Deutsche Bank's public image has suffered greatly," said the bank's supervisory board chief Paul Achleitner.

Like its rivals, Deutsche Bank also faces the challenges of low interest rates, increased regulation and tougher competition> It unveiled at the end of April a battle plan for boosting profitability.

That included the sale of its Postbank unit, the closure of 200 out of 700 branches in Germany and the expansion of its Internet banking services.

© 2015 AFP

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