May 21, 2015 / 8:34 AM / 2 years ago

Deutsche Bank CEOs ask for support as cost cuts loom

Deutsche Bank co-CEOs Anshu Jain (L) and Juergen Fitschen stand with CFO Stefan Krause (R) during the bank's annual general meeting in Frankfurt, Germany, May 21, 2015. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank’s (DBKGn.DE) two chief executives faced down a storm of shareholder criticism on Thursday by conceding that their performance had fallen short and asking the bank’s owners for continued backing as they cut costs and reshape strategy.

Pressure on the management duo has risen sharply in recent weeks after the bank unveiled a restructuring plan that shareholders viewed as too little too late and that led to shares in the bank weakening.

“We have not delivered, so far, the returns you expect and deserve,” Fitschen said in the text of a speech at the bank’s annual general meeting. “We ask for your continued support.”

Jain acknowledged that the group’s efforts to maintain a so-called global, universal strategy – offering everything from home mortgages in Berlin to derivatives in Tokyo – had proven too costly and that the bank needed to reduce its footprint.

Jain, who was made directly accountable for executing the bank’s strategy and cutting costs in a board reshuffle late on Wednesday, said cutting costs was now a top priority.

“We are not satisfied with the cost savings we have delivered,” he said in the text of a speech. “That was unsustainable.”

Chairman Paul Achleitner acknowledged that Deutsche Bank still had some way to go to restore its image.

“The reputation of Deutsche Bank currently is badly beaten and damaged,” he said.

Deutsche reshuffled its management board late on Wednesday, consolidating restructuring authority under Jain while bidding farewell to its retail banking head Rainer Neske.

The reshuffle came on the eve of what promised to be a stormy annual general meeting after some of the 9,000 registered shareholders openly expressed dismay at lagging profits, soaring fines and sluggish reforms.

Reporting by Thomas Atkins; Editing by Arno Schuetze

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