Deutsche Bank gets support from top investor, CEO John Cryan in talks with banks


Doha/Frankfurt: Deutsche Bank has secured support from its largest shareholder and more German lawmakers as it grapples with a confidence crisis following US authorities’ demands for up to $14 billion to settle allegations it mis-sold mortgage-backed securities.

Qatari investors who own the largest stake in Deutsche Bank do not plan to sell their shares and could consider buying more if the embattled German bank decides to raise capital, officials familiar with Qatari investment policy told Reuters.

“Purchasing more (Deutsche Bank) stock – that could be considered … which is not to say there are any imminent plans to do that,” said a source close to the Qatari investors who own just below 10% in Deutsche Bank. The official declined to be identified as the matter is confidential.

If a capital hike does turn out to be required, the Qatari investors would probably take part in it as they want to keep their roughly 10 percent stake, a second source close to the matter added.

Deutsche shares plunged to record intra-day lows below €10 last week on Friday and although they have since rebounded to just above €12, they are 13% below last month’s peak and 46% below their close at the end of last year.

That implies the Qataris may have lost, on paper, over $1.2 billion on their investments in the bank.

Deutsche Bank head John Cryan, who is attending the International Monetary Fund and World Bank’s autumn meetings in Washington, is due to meet with the Department of Justice as well as with senior managers of other investment banks in the US to discuss the lender’s options, people familiar with the schedule of Cryan’s US trip said.

However the talks with other bankers are expected to focus on immediate steps the German bank may be able to take such as asset sales, rather than asking shareholders for fresh cash.

“The cap hike issue will unlikely be the focus of most of those meetings,” one of those people said, adding that pulling off a capital raising deal would be a well-rehearsed exercise which does not need too much advance discussion.

Also Read: Is Deutsche Bank the proverbial trigger for the next financial crisis ?

Deutsche Bank declined to comment on Cryan’s discussions with bankers. Separately, German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Friday that while Deutsche Bank faced enormous challenges with potential fines in the US, moves by its leadership to change the bank’s business model showed the bank was reacting to the risks it faced. Gabriel said the government did not have its own risk assessment for the bank but that Germany was keen to see the bank succeed in the longer term. “It’s completely obvious that we have an interest in Deutsche Bank again becoming a stable financial institution that is successful nationally and internationally,” Gabriel told a news conference. Germany’s flagship bank is under heavy pressure as it fights the penalty of up to $14 billion that the US Department of Justice (DoJ) plans to impose for misstating the risks of securities the bank sold ahead of the 2008-2009 financial crisis. The setback sent its shares to a record low last week and worried clients.

Deutsche says it expects to settle with the DOJ for far less than $14 billion, in line with other big banks that negotiated smaller fines over similar allegations.

On Thursday, IMF chief Christine Lagarde gave Deutsche Bank some tough advice, saying it needed to reform its business model and rapidly reach a deal with US regulators over a potentially huge fine.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the chairman of the Eurogroup of finance ministers from the countries that use the euro common currency, said the $14 billion US fine demand was too big and potentially damaging to financial stability. Deutsche is in the midst of a deep overhaul that includes slashing jobs from a workforce of around 1,00,000, revamping information technology and shrinking non-core assets. In contrast to some European peers, it is sticking with its strategic focus on investment banking, with a global reach that the IMF says makes it among the riskiest of all banks.

CAP HIKE Launching a capital increase before a settlement with US authorities on the mortgages case is deemed impossible as few investors will be willing to buy shares without being able to gauge the impact on the lender’s capital, equity capital markets bankers said. “And even when a settlement is eventually reached, Deutsche Bank is likely to wait for its share price to recover before launching a cap hike. Currently it would only be able to raise €4.5-5 billion and they may want more,” one banker said, referring to Deutsche Bank shareholders’ authorisation on capital issuance and a likely discount on new shares of 20-30%.

“A cap hike could be done in the first half of 2017 at the earliest,” another banker said. Deutsche Bank is a global equity capital markets powerhouse itself, ranked 7th worldwide according to Thomson Reuters data, so it has the necessary expertise itself to prepare for a capital increase. When planning a rights issue Deutsche Bank will, however, rely on help from other investment banks. In 2014, 25 banks helped it pull off a rights issue. Most of the banks will be called in just days before the deal, which will likely be structured as a fully underwritten rights issue with banks guaranteeing to take on shares to sell on to investors. “At this stage, no bank has gotten any mandate for a cap hike,” a person close to Deutsche Bank said. The bulk of new shares would probably be bought by the usual mix of investment funds, pension funds and hedge funds. However, at the same time, some of Germany’s top industrial companies have revived a decades-old network to discuss taking a direct stake in the lender as a way to help shield the bank, one executive at a large DAX-listed company has said.