Christian Sewing, the newly-appointed chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank, revealed plans to focus the commercial activities of the German financial institute more on Europe.
“Our roots lie in Europe, this is where we want to offer firms and institutional clients global financing solutions”, Sewing said in a telephone conference. He added that the Dax-listed bank would henceforth place a “much greater focus” on its home continent.
The CEO described the current level of returns at the institute as “simply unacceptable.” Total profits at Deutsche Bank in Q1 2018 fell to 120 million euros (146.2 million U.S. dollars) compared to 575 million euros during the same period last time. At the same time, quarterly revenue shrank by around five percent to 7 billion euros.
As a consequence, Deutsche Bank will significantly reduce it investment and retail banking presence in the U.S. in particular. The management board will also assess whether to downsize its equity trading business and withdraw from markets where the Frankfurt-based institute currently only handles small volumes of cross-border transactions.
Analysts have repeatedly called for Deutsche Bank to retreat from the difficult U.S. investment banking market where domestic players like JPMorgan Chase continue to play a dominant role. The New York-based institute recorded profits of 7.1 billion euros in the first quarter (Q1) of 2018.
Sewing’s announcement of yet another round of far-reaching corporate restructuring at Deutsche Bank comes shortly after the release of disappointing Q1 earnings figures. The CEO vowed to “change course” at the ailing bank and warned that there was “no time to lose” in “re-defining” its core business model.
In the future, Deutsche Bank would prioritize on advisory and financing services in areas of direct relevance to its European customer base. Additionally, private- and commercial banking units, as well as the now publicly listed wealth management unit DWS are supposed to contribute to around half of total revenue from 2021 onwards as investment banking activities are wound down.
Sewing joined Deutsche Bank in his teens and was recently named as the successor to embattled ex-CEO John Cryan by the supervisory board. Cryan had sought to launch an ambitious corporate restructuring program after joining as CEO in 2015 but arguably failed to return the bank to financial health. Deutsche Bank has written losses for the past three consecutive years, taking the total figure of cumulative annual loses since 2015 to 9 billion euros.
Following his promotion from the post of the head of the private banking to CEO, Sewing noted on Thursday that re-orienting Deutsche Bank towards Europe would also entail another wave of lay-offs within the 97,000 strong global workforce. “These cuts are painful but unfortunately necessary if our bank wants to remain competitive in the long-run”, Sewing said.