With a share price at its lowest-ever ebb, weedy business performance and a heap of anti-money-laundering failures, Deutsche Bank came in for robust criticism from shareholders Thursday at its annual general meeting.
Although “we’re seeing the first signs of your strategy,” a share price touching lows of 6.35 euros ($7.07) on Thursday “reflects investors’ huge concerns” about the future of Germany’s largest lender, small shareholders’ representative Klaus Nieding told chief executive Christian Sewing.
It is “indispensable” for bosses to change the tune at the investment banking arm, Nieding added, although he praised executives for recent merger talks with rival Commerzbank that ultimately fell through.
Alexandra Annecke of Union Investment was less temperate, judging that “shareholders have reached the end of their patience” -- adding for good measure that “directors’ salaries bear no relation to performance or the share price”. Sewing took home seven million euros in 2018, including 3.7 million euros in bonuses, as the bank tiptoed back into the black for the first time in years.
Several shareholder representatives said ahead of the meeting that they would vote against the bank’s leadership, criticising especially supervisory board chief Paul Achleitner, seen as having failed over the past seven years to bring the institution back on course.
But in the finally tally, 75.2 percent of shareholders approved of Sewing’s stewardship, with Achleitner receiving the backing of 71.6 percent In a speech, Sewing defended his record since taking the reins from crisis firefighter John Cryan just over a year ago.
His adjustments to the bank’s strategy have refocused it on its European core and on the most dependable revenue-generating business lines.
Sewing added that “we’re prepared to make tough cutbacks” in the investment bank, once the flagship unit before being humbled by a swarm of legal entanglements in recent years.