Deutsche Bank replaces John Cryan as CEO

Daniel Fowler
April 9, 2018

Deutsche Bank AG named Christian Sewing to replace Chief Executive Officer John Cryan after less than three years amid mounting questions about the future direction of Europe's largest investment bank.

Sewing, a German national, would replace Cryan, a Briton, at a time when the bank is trying to strengthen its brand in its home market.

Deutsche Bank has seen three top leadership appointments in six years amid pressure from investors to improve profitability and reverse a share slump. News weekly Der Spiegel and business newspaper Handelsblatt said the bank would tap Christian Sewing, 47, now a deputy CEO and head of private banking, to take over in May from Cryan, who has been at the helm since 2015.

Deutsche Bank had confirmed late Saturday that its supervisory board would have a discussion on the CEO position.

"The Supervisory Board in general and I personally are grateful for this", he said. He joined the bank in 1989 and has worked in Frankfurt, London, Singapore, Tokyo and Toronto.

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Cryan was appointed CEO in 2015. Given sole command of the lender in 2016 after the departure of co-CEO Juergen Fitschen, Cryan's task was to restructure Deutsche and clean up the toxic legacy of its pre-financial crisis bid to compete with global investment banking giants.

The debate also parallels concern about the direction of Deutsche's investment bank, whose swift expansion in the years leading up to the financial crisis is blamed for numerous bank's current woes. He has been on the management board of the bank since January 2015. The division employed more than 41,000 staff at the end of 2017, up 4 percent from 2015, but key staff have left.

He had neutralised the worst legal threats, in part by paying billions in fines and compensation, strengthened Deutsche's capital foundations with an €8-billion (US$9.8 billion) share issue previous year and floated asset management division DWS on the stock market in March. But his tumultuous tenure highlighted numerous bank's underlying issues.

Cryan pushed to cut costs, streamline computer systems and leave less profitable businesses and regions. But under his tenure the German lender has struggled to make a profit, reporting its third consecutive annual loss in 2017.

The bank's chief operating officer Kim Hammonds told colleagues recently that Deutsche was "the most dysfunctional company" she had ever worked for, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

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