FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank’s (DBKGn.DE) top managers have met with the bank’s new chief executive John Cryan this week as he works hard to keep them on board, at least for now, following Sunday’s shock announcement that he would replace Anshu Jain in July.
Deutsche Bank’s chairman Paul Achleitner and departing co-CEO Jain have also offered executives assurances that their positions are secure, signalling no other immediate changes, bank insiders told Reuters.
Germany’s largest bank, headquartered in two mirrored towers in Frankfurt, is in the middle of a major restructuring dubbed “Strategy 2020” which will involve cutting back its investment banking operation and selling its Postbank retail banking unit, while fortifying wealth management and transaction services.
Achleitner sent a memo to staff following Sunday’s bombshell, stressing Cryan was a seasoned professional, a German-speaker, and that he was not associated with any of the activities that has seen Deutsche hit by heavy fines and burdensome investigations.
But Cryan has been out of sight because the former finance chief at Swiss bank UBS sits on Deutsche’s supervisory board, which is responsible for overseeing management, insiders say.
This means he cannot speak on behalf of management before he takes over as CEO on July 1 as it would go beyond his current legal remit, they add.
And it has left Achleitner, who in 2013 hired Cryan as a possible CEO successor, to provide reassurance.
Achleitner, a former Goldman Sachs banker who helped restructure corporate Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, did make a surprise appearance at Deutsche Bank’s asset and wealth management unit near Zurich on Wednesday, delivering a pep talk to some 200 members of staff.
Michele Faissola, a Jain ally who transformed the asset management and wealth unit into one of the bank’s top performers, appeared energetic and enthused at the Zurich event, saying he was ready to keep at it, a source said.
But some appointments involving top Deutsche Bank managers have been cancelled at short notice, including a public presentation on Wednesday by Thomas Poppensieker, the man leading the bank’s project to tighten compliance.
Deutsche Bank declined to comment.
Bank insiders say there has been speculation that some senior staff will pack their bags with Jain, who spent most of his 20 years at Deutsche in its powerful investment bank.
Cryan, also an investment banker, is known by former colleagues, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, as a methodical and efficient executor of strategy, a fact not lost on investors who have welcomed the changing of the guard by driving up the bank’s shares.
He will have only weeks to put meat on the bones of Deutsche Bank’s new strategy, which is due by end-July when the company publishes its quarterly results. Some shareholders are calling for further management changes.
This could make his first major appearance as co-CEO alongside Jain’s management partner Juergen Fitschen a baptism-of-fire as he seeks to restore credibility to a strategic roadmap that investors largely rejected.
Numerous bank officials contacted by Reuters say there are so far no signs Cryan, who took part in formulating the restructuring plan, will change it, only that he may speed up its implementation.
“Those discussions were had at the highest level and John was a part of that,” said one executive.
Jain has made no comment since Sunday’s announcement, in which he stated only that the bank’s strategy unveiled at the end of April marked a good transition point for new leadership to execute it. He cancelled an appearance scheduled for next week at a university in Stuttgart.
From July, Jain will work as a consultant to help manage the transition with Cryan. Whether he remains engaged full-time in that role is not clear, one person with knowledge of the matter said.
Additional reporting by Arno Schuetze, Jonathan Gould, Andreas Kroener, Katharina Bart, Oliver Hirt; editing by Alexander Smith and Elaine Hardcastle