Deutsche Bank posts first loss since WWII

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While other major German banks have benefited from a government rescue plan for the sector, DB chairman says he wants the bank to pull out of the crisis without help.

Frankfurt -- Germany's biggest lender, Deutsche Bank, posted its first annual loss since World War II after a terrible fourth quarter, but said it would survive the global meltdown without state aid.

Chairman Josef Ackermann said on Thursday that the bank did not require government assistance and would pull out of the financial crisis on its own.

Deutsche Bank reported a net loss of 3.9 billion euros (5.0 billion dollars) for 2008 after a massive loss of 4.8 billion euros in the fourth quarter alone.

Deutsche Bank posted a record profit of 6.5 billion euros for 2007.

While other major German banks have benefited from a government rescue plan for the sector, Ackermann told a press conference: "We want Deutsche (Bank) to succeed in pulling out of this crisis by itself."

Ackermann added that he saw no "dramatic" risks in the bank's accounts.

In a statement earlier, he said that operating conditions in the fourth quarter were “completely unprecedented and exposed some weaknesses in our business model.”

He acknowledged being "very disappointed" at the quarterly figures but said that "since the trust and support of our shareholders is critical for us, we recommend a dividend for the year 2008 of 50 cents per share.”

“We are certain that Deutsche Bank is going to come out of this crisis all the stronger," he added.

The Deutsche Bank chairman said results so far this year left him, "with all due precaution, confident for 2009" and the bank had "absolutely no" need for a capital increase.

He added that an ongoing tie-up with the German Postbank should produce savings of 120 to 140 million euros per year within three to four years.

After initially driving down the bank's share price in the absence of a detailed outlook for 2009, investors appeared to be reassured by Ackermann's comments and the dividend commitment.

In midday trade, the stock was down less than one percent at 20.00 euros, coming off an opening loss of 7.25 percent.

The bank said it managed to increase its core capital ratio from 8.6 percent of total assets at the end of 2007 to 10.1 percent at the end of last year.

This Tier 1 ratio is a measure of financial strength and is closely watched by analysts for indications of how well-equipped banks are to cope with the current financial and economic crisis.

Deutsche Bank also took provisions for credit losses worth a total 1.1 billion euros, an increase of 76 percent from the previous year.

Ackermann said he remained committed to the bank's business model, which is focused on investment banking, a once lucrative field in which Deutsche Bank is one of the global leaders.

The sector has suffered sustained turmoil since mid-2007 when the American subprime or higher risk home loan market collapsed, undercutting the derivative investment instruments which had been linked to it by the banks.

"In investment banking, we are market leaders in areas which have continued to perform well throughout the crisis," he stressed.

At the same time, the bank was "repositioning our platform in some core businesses," the chairman acknowledged.

For the full year 2008, Deutsche Bank revised the total value of its assets lower by 7.0 billion euros, more than three times the 2007 write-downs of 2.3 billion euros.

In the fourth quarter alone, asset write-downs amounted to 5.3 billion euros.

Etienne Balmer/AFP/Expatica

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