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Deutsche Bank CEO’s Last-Ditch Plan to Save Best of His Business

As CEO Christian Sewing cuts back the global megabank, revenue growth remains elusive.


Christian Sewing’s shock was plain to see, the color draining from his face. The chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank AG had just unveiled his long-awaited plan to fix the troubled lender. It included a retreat from equities trading, a focus on corporate banking, and the elimination of 18,000 jobs, a fifth of the workforce. To underscore his conviction, he’d even pledged to invest a chunk of his own pay in Deutsche Bank stock every month.

Then he checked his phone. The shares were in free-fall; they lost as much as 7.3% that day, July 8, and tumbled again on July 9. Shareholders had reached the same, grim verdict: Sewing’s goals were unrealistic for a bank that had consistently disappointed investors. His plan continued to rely on a global investment bank with shrinking revenue and a low-profit retail bank in a home market plagued by fierce competition and negative interest rates.