Deutsche Bank Co-CEOs To Resign Amid Shareholder Frustration

Back in May, Deutsche Bank’s co-CEOs Anshu Jain and Jürgen Fitschen got a rude awakening. 

At the bank’s annual meeting, less than two-thirds of shareholders said they approved of top management’s performance. That was down markedly from nearly 90% the year before. 

At issue: ambiguity surrounding planned cost cuts, distant profitability targets, and investor concern about the bank’s corporate culture. 

Deutsche, perhaps more than any other firm on Wall Street, embodies the corrupt bank stereotype.

Allegations against the bank and its employees range from rate-rigging to the violation of US sanctions on Iran. Legacy litigation has cost the bank around $9 billion over the past three years alone and that figure could rise materially as reports suggest the DoJ may seek to extract a settlement of as much as $2-3 billion related to soured MBS in the coming months.

The problems go beyond the high profile cases. Last month for instance, Deutsche paid $55 million to settle an SEC investigation related to allegations the bank deliberately obscured billions in paper losses on a derivatives book tied to the 2007 collapse of the Canadian ABCP market. 

From Deutsche’s annual report:

We are currently the subject of regulatory and criminal industry-wide investigations relating to interbank offered rates, as well as civil actions. Due to a number of uncertainties, including those related to the high profile of the matters and other banks’ settlement negotiations, the eventual outcome of these matters is unpredictable, and may materially and adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition and reputation. 


A number of regulatory and law enforcement agencies globally are currently investigating us in connection with misconduct relating to manipulation of foreign exchange rates. The extent of our financial exposure to these matters could be material, and our reputation may suffer material harm as a result. 


A number of regulatory authorities are currently investigating or seeking information from us in connection with transactions with Monte dei Paschi di Siena. The extent of our financial exposure to these matters could be material, and our reputation may be harmed. 


Regulatory and law enforcement agencies in the United States are investigating whether our historical processing of certain U.S. dollar payment orders for parties from countries subject to U.S. embargo laws complied with U.S. federal and state laws. 


We have been subject to contractual claims, litigation and governmental investigations in respect of our U.S. residential mortgage loan business that may materially and adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition or reputation.

You get the idea. 

Now, shareholder frustration over the bank’s performance and the seemingly intractable nature of the firm’s legal problems have culminated in the resignation of Jain and Fitschen. WSJ has the story:


Anshu Jain and Jürgen Fitschen, the embattled co-chief executives ofDeutsche Bank AG, plan to announce their resignations, according to people familiar with the matter, an abrupt move that throws into question the future direction of one of the world’s largest banks.


Mr. Jain, a longtime trader and investment banker, plans to step down effective at the end of June, one person said. The other co-CEO, Mr. Fitschen, plans to leave after Deutsche Bank’s annual shareholder meeting next May, the person said.


The joint resignations, which could be announced as soon as Sunday, follow a series of financial missteps and regulatory penalties at the giant German bank, which has investment-banking and wealth-management operations all over the world. Most recently, the bank was forced to pay about $2.5 billion and to plead guilty to resolve accusations that its traders tried to rig benchmark interest rates, including the London interbank offered rate, or Libor. Some big shareholders have voiced increasing displeasure with the bank’s performance and the management team’s turnaround plans.


Adding to the pressure, Mr. Fitschen is on criminal trial in Germany in connection with the collapse of the Kirch media empire. Mr. Fitschen, 66 years old, has denied the charges.


The sudden resignations introduce the possibility of major change at Deutsche Bank. In April, Messrs. Jain and Fitschen took their latest stab at an overhaul strategy designed to streamline the at-times unwieldy bank and to boost its profitability. But to the disappointment of some shareholders, they stopped short of a radical plan to break up Deutsche Bank’s investment-banking and retail-lending operations into separate companies.


The catalyst for the sudden resignations is unclear.

A bit more color from Reuters:
The supervisory board has convened an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss the bank's leadership, the source said. It was expected to appoint John Cryan, the former chief financial officer of UBS, to replace Jain, Britain's Financial Times newspaper reported.


Deutsche Bank has struggled to restore an image tarnished by a raft of regulatory and legal problems which include probes into alleged manipulation of benchmark interest rates, mis-selling of derivatives, tax evasion and money laundering.


In a last ditch effort to restore confidence in its leadership, the German lender presented a radical management shakeup on May 21, only to face calls for Jain to resign from staff situated in its own headquarters in Frankfurt.


Some investors demanded more changes to restore confidence.


John Cryan, former UBS CFO, is reportedly in line to take the helm.

*  *  *

With Jain — the veteran trader and investment banker — on his way out by the end of the month, the bank's derivatives book (which is 20 times larger on a notional basis than Germany's GDP) will now be under the sole supervision of Fitschen, who, as Reuters reminds us, "is required to appear every week at a criminal court in Munich to defend himself against allegations that he misled investigators in a dispute with the heirs of the Kirch media empire." 

How fitting.