No Deutsche Bank plans to exit Asia

FRANKFURT • Deutsche Bank has no plans to pull out of Asian countries as it restructures its global business, chief executive Christian Sewing said during his first visit to the region in his new role.

After taking the helm at Germany's flagship lender last month, he announced plans to cut back its United States investment banking activities where it has been unable to break the grip of US powerhouses such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.

The bank's business in Asia, however, remains key to the lender's global success, Mr Sewing told a company townhall meeting in Singapore on Monday, according to a Hong Kong-based spokesman for the bank. "We can be relevant to our clients only if we continue to be strong in Asia," Mr Sewing also told a client meeting.

Of Deutsche Bank's top 100 clients globally, 88 are doing business with it on matters related to Asia, he added.

After announcing plans to cut back in US investment banking, Mr Sewing vowed to invest in German retail banking and asset management in Europe.

With respect to Asia, he had said Deutsche Bank would reduce its commitment to sectors with limited cross-border activity, but on Monday he stressed that the bank would continue its business of helping foreign clients in the region - which is in the bank's roots, given its history of financing German businesses' global expansion.

"Our first steps outside of Germany nearly 150 years ago were in fact in this region, in China and Japan. We knew then, as we know now, how fundamental Asia is to our global business," he said.

Deutsche Bank is present in 15 Asian countries including Japan, China, Singapore and India. It employs about 19,000 staff in Asia.

The bank is planning cuts of more than 100 jobs in its Asian investment banking operations, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment on potential job cuts in the region.

By contrast, it is expected to cut around 1,000 jobs or 10 per cent of its workforce in the US, the largest global market for investment banking fees, a different person familiar with the matter said last month.

Deutsche Bank has traditionally been stronger in Asia than in the US, ranking fifth globally in 2017 investment banking revenues in Asia, compared with eighth position in the US and second place in Europe, according to data from research firm Coalition.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2018, with the headline 'No Deutsche Bank plans to exit Asia'. Print Edition | Subscribe