Deutsche Bank begins cull in $8.3bn reinvention

Christian Sewing, CEO of Deutsche Bank, has called the job cuts a “reinvention” of Germany’s flagship lender. (AFP)
Updated 08 July 2019
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Deutsche Bank begins cull in $8.3bn reinvention

  • Experts say cuts expected to hit harder in US and Europe

FRANKFURT: Deutsche Bank laid off staff in Asia on Monday as it began cutting 18,000 jobs as part of a €7.4 billion ($8.3 billion) “reinvention” set to tip Germany’s largest lender into yet another annual loss.

In a retreat from a long-held ambition to make its struggling investment bank, which employs 38,000 people, a force on Wall Street, Deutsche Bank said on Sunday it would scrap its global equities operations and cut some in fixed income roles.

Shares in Deutsche Bank, which has almost 91,500 staff around the world, were slightly lower in Frankfurt as the bank’s finance chief said there was “significant uncertainty” whether it would break even in 2020.

CEO Christian Sewing told journalists from the bank’s London office, where many of the cuts are expected, that he was “doing nothing short of reinventing” Deutsche Bank, which will have been in the red for four out of the past five years as it continues to come to terms with a series of setbacks in recent years.

Bankers seen leaving Deutsche Bank’s Sydney office on Monday said they had been laid off, but declined to be identified as they were due to return later to sign redundancy packages. Sewing said job cuts would continue in London and New York.

JP Morgan analysts called the plan “bold and for the first time not half-baked” but questioned the credibility of the execution, revenue growth and employee motivation.

Ratings agency Moody’s said Deutsche Bank faced “significant challenges” to execute the plan swiftly and said it would keep its negative outlook on the bank.

“It’s a risky maneuver, but if it succeeds, it has the potential to bring the bank back on course,” a source close to one of Deutsche Bank’s top 10 biggest shareholders said.

Deutsche Bank gave no geographic breakdown for the job cuts, although the bulk are expected in Europe and the US.

In Sydney, Hong Kong and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region the working day began with cuts and several Deutsche bankers said entire teams in sales and trading were going.

A person with knowledge of the bank’s Australia operations said its four-strong equity capital markets (ECM) team was being disbanded, but most of its mergers and acquisitions (M&A) team was not immediately affected.

Game over

Deutsche Bank used to rank among the top 10 banks in league tables for ECM deals in Asia, but had slipped in recent years, hitting 17th last year and 18th in 2019, Refinitiv data showed. So far this year, it ranks eighth regionally for M&A activity.

Deutsche had some 4,700 staff at its main regional offices in Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore, factsheets on its website showed.

Its investment banking team for the Asia-Pacific region had about 300 people before the cuts, of which 10 to 15 percent will be laid off, almost all in its ECM division, said a senior Asia banker with direct knowledge of the plans.

One equities trader in Hong Kong said the mood was “pretty gloomy” as people were called in to meetings. “They give you this packet and you are out of the building,” he said.

Several workers left offices holding envelopes with the bank’s logo. Three employees took a picture of themselves beside branch logo, hugged and hailed a taxi.

“If you have a job for me please let me know. But do not ask questions,” said one employee.

A spokeswoman would not comment but said the bank would be “as sensitive as possible when implementing these changes.”

“We are creating a bank that will be more profitable, leaner, more innovative and more resilient,” Sewing wrote in a note to staff.


Huawei in public test as it unveils sanction-hit phone

Updated 19 September 2019

Huawei in public test as it unveils sanction-hit phone

  • Hit by US sanctions, Huawei's Mate 30 will not be allowed to use Google’s Play Store
  • Household-name services like WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Maps will be unavailable.
BERLIN: Chinese tech giant Huawei launches its latest high-end smartphone in Munich on Thursday, the first that could be void of popular Google apps because of US sanctions.
Observers are asking whether a phone without the Silicon Valley software that users have come to depend on can succeed, or whether Huawei will have found a way for buyers to install popular apps despite the constraints.
The company has maintained a veil of secrecy over its plans, set to be dropped at a 1200 GMT press conference revealing the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro models.
Huawei, targeted directly by the United States as part of a broader trade conflict with Beijing, was added to a “blacklist” in Washington in May.
Since then, it has been illegal for American firms to do business with the Chinese firm, suspected of espionage by President Donald Trump and his administration.
As a result, the new Mate will run on a freely available version of Android, the world’s most-used phone operating system that is owned by the search engine heavyweight.
While Mate 30 owners will experience little difference in the use of the system, the lack of Google’s Play Store — which provides access to hundreds of thousands of third-party apps and games as well as films, books and music — could hobble them.
Household-name services like WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Maps will be unavailable.
The tech press reports that this yawning gap in functionality has left some sellers reluctant to stock the new phones, fearing a wave of rapid-fire returns from dissatisfied customers.
Huawei president Richard Yu said at Berlin’s IFA electronics fair this month that his engineers found a “very simple” way to install the hottest apps without going via the Play Store.
Huawei could offer its own app store in a preliminary version, setting itself up as a competitor to the dominant Apple and Google offerings, observers speculate.
Over the longer term, the company could build out a similar “ecosystem” of devices, apps and services as the Silicon Valley companies that would bind users more closely to it.
The world’s second-largest smartphone maker after Samsung, Huawei earlier this month presented its proprietary operating system HarmonyOS, a potential replacement for Android.
The Mate 30 will not yet have HarmonyOS installed.
But it could make for a new round in the decades-old “OS wars” between Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Mac OS, then Android versus Apple’s iOS.
Meanwhile, Eric Xu, current holder of Huawei’s rotating chief executive chair, has urged Europe to foster an alternative to Google and Apple.
That could provide an opening for Huawei to build up Europe’s market of 500 million well-off consumers as a stronghold against American rivals.
“If Europe had its own ecosystem for smart devices, Huawei would use it... that would resolve the problem of European digital dependency” on the United States, Xu told German business daily Handelsblatt.
He added that his company would be prepared to invest in developing such joint European-Chinese projects.