Deutsche Bank Rating Cut by Fitch as Cryan Turnaround Stalls

Updated on
  • Fitch cuts long-term rating to BBB+, three levels above junk
  • ‘Deutsche Bank has further to go’ than its peers, Fitch says

The twin tower skyscraper headquarter offices of Deutsche Bank AG stand in Frankfurt.

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

John Cryan is facing increasing skepticism he can revive growth at Deutsche Bank AG as the lender struggles to win back clients and market share after last year’s slump.

Deutsche Bank had its long-term credit grade cut one level by Fitch Ratings late Thursday, which said the lender will take longer to revive growth under a turnaround plan unveiled in March. That came a week after Autonomous Research LLP said the lender may be “beyond repair” unless there’s a “miracle” boom at its once-mighty bond-trading business.

Cryan is struggling to boost earnings as the Frankfurt-based lender undertakes its third revamp in as many years. The CEO brought the bank back from the brink in late 2016 by settling misconduct lawsuits and raising 8 billion euros. His plan to restore “modest growth” by pivoting Europe’s largest investment bank to corporate clients and emphasizing its German roots was thwarted when the lender suffered its weakest revenue in 3 1/2 years in the second quarter.

“We no longer expect revenue to demonstrate any clear signs of franchise recovery this year, and we expect necessary further restructuring costs to continue to erode net income,” the Fitch analysts wrote in a statement Thursday.

The company’s stock fell 0.3 percent to 14.33 euros and has declined 7 percent this year, the second-worst performer in the 46-member Stoxx 600 Banks Price Index. The company’s 6 percent perpetual bonds were little changed.

Read more: Deutsche Bank’s Cryan Is Finally Having Some Fun. Should He Be?

Fitch said low volatility and persistently low interest rates, especially in Europe, continue to weigh on the bank’s top line, and it will take longer to reverse a loss in market share the bank experienced at the end of last year, when some clients stopped doing business with Deutsche Bank amid speculation about its capital strength.

Postbank Integration

The integration of its Postbank consumer banking unit, which Cryan decided to keep after he couldn’t find a buyer, will result in more restructuring expenses, Fitch said.

The German bank’s rating was reduced to BBB+, the third-lowest investment grade at Fitch, from A-, while its outlook was set at stable. Fitch raised UBS Group AG to A+ from A, citing operational improvements such as better risk controls, and confirmed the rating for Credit Suisse Group AG at A-.

“The scale and scope of what it has to do, plus strategic revisions earlier this year, mean that Deutsche Bank has further to go to complete its business restructuring than any of the other” global universal banks, the Fitch analysts said.

Read more on why Postbank bedevils Deutsche Bank.

S&P Global Inc. raised Deutsche Bank’s rating to A- from BBB+ in March, citing a retroactive change in German law that will protect senior creditors. The bank’s credit has been rated Baa2 by Moody’s Investor Services since May 2016.

The struggle is not lost on Cryan himself who said in July that the bank needs to focus more on generating revenue after its drive to reduce costs.

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