Deutsche Bank chief executive Christian Sewing has told shareholders the German lender was prepared to make “tough cutbacks” at its investment banking division.
The bank’s shares plunged to fresh all-time lows ahead of this morning’s annual meeting as shareholder discontent mounted following the collapse of merger talks with Commerzbank.
In a bid to win back investor confidence, Sewing said “far-reaching changes” were needed to transform the bank.
He said: “We will accelerate transformation by rigorously focusing our bank on profitable and growing businesses which are particularly relevant to our clients.
“So I can assure you: we’re prepared to make tough cutbacks.”
Sewing, who joined the bank in April last year, admitted being chief executive was “highly emotional and sometimes also quite exhausting” but that he was energised to lead the bank through what he described as a challenging period.
Last month Germany’s largest lender slashed its revenue target after abandoning talks for a deal with rival Commerzbank.
The bank said it expected revenue to be flat this year as it reported that revenue in the first quarter was down nine per cent year-on-year to €6.4bn.
Major shareholders have criticised the board’s strategy and the bank’s poor performance, with some calling for chairman Paul Achleitner to step down before his term ends in 2022.
Two shareholder advisory groups – ISS and Glass Lewis – took the unusual step of urging investors to issue a vote of no confidence in management.
Achleitner said the bank was aware of shareholder disappointment over falling revenues, boardroom changes, dividends and doubts over its business model.
He said the bank had made progress in recent years, including trimming its balance sheet, reducing legal risks and cutting costs to return to profitability in 2018.
“But that’s not enough, of course. We need to restructure even faster and more radically.”
Shares in the bank fell 2.6 per cent this morning to €6.44, picking up slightly from new lows of €6.39 in early trading.