Deutsche Bank May Scrap Board Bonuses for Second Year

It may be inappropriate not to scale back top executive bonuses as the bank restructures and cuts expenses.

A multi-year restructuring process of Germany’s largest lender will continue to hurt its employee morale and pockets, as long as the financial results remain lackluster. The head of Deutsche Bank AG’s retail banking arm Christian Sewing today urged the management board to waive their bonuses for the second consecutive year if shareholders have to go without a dividend in 2016.

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Mr. Sewing, who has run Deutsche’s retail banking arm since 2015, said in an interview with German newspaper Bild: “It’s clear that if we don’t pay our shareholders a dividend, then our own bonus needs to be up for debate as well.”

“It is not up to me to decide, it’s up to the supervisory board,” added Deutsche consumer banking chief.

After reporting a €6.8 billion net loss in 2015, the bank did away with bonus payments to its ten-member board. This year is not looking any brighter for the bank and its top managers as the headwinds of Brexit, which has shaken many European banks that run big operations from London hubs, weighed on the financial results.

Earlier in July, Deutsche Bank reported steep Q2 income losses down 98% from a year earlier, mainly due to writedowns, litigation charges and restructuring costs.

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Moreover, the bank faces accusations of misconduct in foreign currency trading that could result in financial losses requiring the payment of fines to resolve pending lawsuits.

Political statements

Commenting on the matter, Ingo Speich, one of Deutsche’s top 20 shareholders, told Financial Times: “Overall, Mr Sewing’s comments were a positive signal”.

“Clearly it’s a political statement, because in quantitative terms, the bonuses paid to the management board make up just a fraction of the total bonus pool. The fixed salaries for Deutsche’s top managers are also relatively high in comparison with other Dax companies, which makes it easier for them to do without a bonus,” he added.

For his part, Mr. Sewing, who urged to waive the bonuses once more, is paid €2.4 million in salary and is in line to get as much as €5.9 million in bonuses this year.

Last year, Deutsche Bank’s CEO John Cryan unveiled a five-year plan designed to boost the capital and profitability and help restore the German lender’s flagging fortunes.

As part of the plan announced in April, Deutsche Bank will cut approximately 9,000 full-time jobs by 2020 and close its operations in 10 countries. In addition, it will slash assets in its dominant trading businesses and offload Postbank, the post office bank.

 

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