Deutsche Bank posts bigger-than-expected loss in fourth quarter

Germany's biggest lender is slashing thousands of jobs, closing some businesses and shaking up its management.

    Deutsche Bank is halving 2019 bonuses for individual board members and delaying employee salary raises by a few months as part of its cost reductions [File: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters]
    Deutsche Bank is halving 2019 bonuses for individual board members and delaying employee salary raises by a few months as part of its cost reductions [File: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters]

    Deutsche Bank fell to a wider-than-expected 1.6 billion euro ($1.78bn) loss in the fourth quarter, pushing its loss for 2019 to 5.7 billion euros ($6.3bn), weighed down by restructuring costs.

    It was the third consecutive quarterly loss and fifth straight annual loss for Germany's biggest bank.

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    After calling off merger talks with rival Commerzbank last year, Deutsche embarked on a 7.4-billion-euro ($8.1bn) restructuring plan involving 18,000 job cuts, the closure of some businesses and a management overhaul.

    "Our new strategy is gaining traction," said CEO Christian Sewing, who took over in 2018.

    Deutsche's results missed analysts' expectations of a 1 billion euro ($1.1bn) loss for the quarter and 5 billion euros ($5.5bn) for the full year.

    The results conclude a turbulent decade for Deutsche, including a cumulative loss of 15 billion euros ($16.5bn) over the last five years and an 82 percent plunge in the shares over 10 years.

    The shares were down 4.4 percent in early Frankfurt trade.

    In contrast, US competitor JPMorgan Chase & Co posted its biggest-ever annual profit as its bond trading business bounced back in the last quarter of the year.

    For analysts and investors, Deutsche's ability to generate revenue has been a major concern. The bank has repeatedly trimmed its outlook.

    Revenue fell 4 percent in the fourth quarter to 5.3 billion euros ($5.8bn) and was down 8 percent for the year to 23.2 billion euros ($25.6bn). The bank aims for annual revenue of 24.5 billion euros ($26.9bn) by 2022.

    Barclays said in a report before the results that Deutsche's latest plan does not mark a turning point for the bank.

    "We think that the group will struggle to achieve the revenue aspirations presented in the recent strategy plan," it said.

    Revenue at Deutsche's cash cow - bond trading division - rose 31 percent, an improvement from recent declines but less than gains posted by some big US banks.

    "We're pleased with the momentum we've seen across the board in fixed income," Ram Nayak, Deutsche Bank's head of fixed income, told Reuters news agency.

    "We've seen a nice uptick in our client volumes and a stabilisation of the franchise," he said.

    The bank has been seeking to cut costs, which investors are watching closely.

    It announced on Wednesday that it had decided to halve 2019 bonuses for individual board members.

    It also told employees this week it would delay salary raises by a few months.

    Deutsche Bank, now in its 150th year and considered one of the global financial system's most important banks, has also been hurt by a series of scandals.

    Seeking to repair relations with Berlin and the general public, last week it appointed to its supervisory board former German minister Sigmar Gabriel, who once criticised the lender for a business model built on speculation.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency