Deutsche Bank asks investors for strategy tips

Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:32pm BST

Quotes

   

* Deutsche Bank surveys investors

* Investors asked on div, capital position - fund managers

* Strategy update due in September

By Kathrin Jones and Arno Schuetze and Edward Taylor

FRANKFURT, July 25 (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank is having an unusually frank discussion with investors about critical strategy issues, an indication of the pressure on banks to regain favour with disgruntled shareholders.

Germany's flagship lender has seen its share price tumble more than 40 percent since March, and gave investors more bad news late on Tuesday when it posted weaker-than-expected second-quarter earnings that highlighted its high cost-base relative to peers.

Europe's banks are facing increasing pressure from shareholders to boost profitability as the region's debt crisis, companies' reluctance to issue debt and equity, and slow stock and bond trading weigh on revenue.

Deutsche Bank said it was surveying a number of stakeholders, a typical process in investor relations, before new co-chief executives Anshu Jain and Juergen Fitschen give a strategy update in September.

However, investors were taken aback by how open the bank is to debating strategy.

According to two fund managers familiar with the survey, Deutsche is asking investors what they feel the appropriate level is for dividend payouts, how big its investment banking arm should be in relation to other divisions, whether efforts to sell assets should be redoubled, and how they feel about Deutsche's capital position.

"I've never come across anything like it," a manager of a large fund, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

Deutsche Bank has been less aggressive than rivals Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse in outlining further belt-tightening measures, and has a higher level of staffing than some investment banking peers, according to J.P Morgan analysts.

While in the past Deutsche Bank has brushed aside questions about whether its capital levels were sufficient, the lender is showing a new willingness to engage in a debate, investment managers said.

"Management is saying it has no problem with capital levels, but the industry has a different view and anticipates a cap hike of up to 8 billion euros", another fund manager said.

Odilo Mandel, fund manager at LBBW Asset Management said that Deutsche Bank's current share price level is too low to pull off a capital increase successfully. "But maybe they have no other choice in the end."

Some investors are becoming increasingly impatient.

Helmut Hipper, fund manager at Union Investment said: "As an investor I want clarity on where things are going."

Another fund manager, who declined to be named, took a similar stance.

"Deutsche Bank is a black box. Nobody knows what it has in its books and what may surface," he said.

A Deutsche Bank spokesman said on Wednesday: "It is important that we regularly survey investors to understand the information that they are seeking from us." (Additional reporting by Alexander Huebner; Editing by Erica Billingham)