Deutsche Bank’s Jain: Earnings not good enough, bank making progress with stronger buffers

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FRANKFURT – Deutsche Bank’s co-CEO said Wednesday the bank’s fourth-quarter earnings were “inadequate,” but vowed the bank was on track to strengthen its finances for the long term.

Germany’s biggest bank had a surprise loss of 965 million euros ($1.32 billion) in the fourth quarter, as earnings were burdened by 528 million in costs for court settlements and investigations into alleged past misconduct in the fourth quarter.

Co-CEO Anshu Jain said at the bank’s annual news conference that “this management team is not happy with these results.” He said they represented “an inadequate return to our shareholders.”

Jain said the bank had put some of its biggest legal issues behind it and has continued to strengthen its capital buffer against losses by shedding risky investments. The company lost 3.2 billion euros last year as it sold off assets that it has set aside for disposal. However, Jain said that boosted the bank’s effective capital reserve by removing possible losses.

He said the bank was still dealing with litigation from past issues, but that some of its biggest legal woes are behind it. In December, it was fined 725 million euros by the European Union over fixing interest-rate benchmarks. It also agreed to pay $1.9 billion to settle a lawsuit by U.S. housing finance authorities over mortgage-backed securities.

Jain said the bank making progress in instilling a more ethical culture through training and outreach to employees.

“Cultural change in sweeping through our bank in all of our 70-plus locations,” Jain said. He underlined the bank’s new compensation practices, in which bonus pay is deferred for five years “and all of that can be clawed back if they are found to have engaged in wrongdoing.”

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