Deutsche Bank hopes to turn fortunes around after disastrous 2015

John Cryan, co-chief executive of Germany's biggest lender Deutsche Bank, pictured prior to a news conference at the company's headquarters in Frankfurt, western Germany, on October 29, 2015 (AFP)

Deutsche Bank's new chief executive John Cryan insisted Thursday that Germany's biggest lender would get through its current difficulties after posting a massive loss of nearly seven billion euros in 2015.

"We all know that periods of restructuring can be challenging. They take time, resolve and patience," Cryan wrote in a letter to employees published to coincide with the group's annual earnings news conference.

"I have first-hand experience of this, and I'm confident we will get through this successfully," Cryan pledged.

"By executing these steps in a disciplined manner, we have the potential to transform ourselves from a restructuring story into a stronger, more efficient, and better-run institution."

Earlier, Deutsche Bank confirmed a net loss of 6.8 billion euros ($7.4 billion) for 2015, owing to massive litigation costs, restructuring expenses, risk provisions and lower income.

It is the group's first annual loss since 2008 during the financial crisis.

Losses in the fourth quarter alone amounted to 2.1 billion euros, said Deutsche Bank, which had already published most of its financial results last week.

The bank is currently mired in a tangle of around 6,000 lawsuits and in May was fined a record $2.5 billion for its involvement in rigging interest rates.

It has also faced probes by Swiss authorities for suspected price fixing on the precious metals market and US investigators have looked into its Moscow branch on suspicion of possible involvement in money laundering.

Cryan, who replaced the disgraced investment banker Anshu Jain as co-CEO in mid-2015, has pledged a sweeping culture change within the bank.

But the litigation costs will continue to hang over the bank's earnings for some time to come.

More hard work

Cryan vowed to "remain focused in 2016."

"We are working hard to clear up our legacy issues. This involves seeking to resolve our litigation and regulatory matters as soon as possible. Restructuring work will continue throughout the year, including preparing for the deconsolidation of Postbank, rationalising our branch network, and developing better digital banking capabilities," Cryan said.

Deutsche Bank has already said that some 26,000 jobs, or around a quarter of the workforce, are on the line, by way of both job cuts and divestments.

In face of the massive losses, the bank's executive board members are to forego their bonuses this year, Cryan said.

And employees' bonuses would also be severely reduced.

The group plans to slash its branch network from 700 to 500 and is hoping to float its retail banking subsidiary, Postbank, on the stock exchange.

It will also invest heavily in updating its IT system, from which it hopes to achieve 800 million euros in cost savings. And it hopes to roll out new digital banking services to customers.

Deutsche Bank shares were the biggest losers on the Frankfurt stock exchange on Thursday, showing a loss of 3.57 percent at 16.50 euros in a generally weaker market.

Shareholders have already been told they will not receive a dividend payout this year and seem to be concerned about the possibility of being asked to stump up more cash.

But Cryan ruled out any new capital increase.

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