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Banking

Germany's Gabriel derides Deutsche Bank 'speculation'

Germany's center-left economy minister has slammed Deutsche Bank for blaming its share price fall on speculators. Sigmar Gabriel said that past management "madness" had put thousands of bank jobs at risk.

Gabriel (pictured above flying to Tehran) began a trade visit to Iran on Monday by describing a Deutsche Bank suggestion that it had fallen victim to hedge fund speculation on the global share market as insincere double-speak.

"I didn't know whether to laugh or get angry - the bank that has made speculation its business model is now declaring itself the victim of speculation," said Gabriel, who is also chairman of the Social Democratic Party.

The deputy chancellor told journalists while flying to Tehran that the upshot of Deutsche Bank's talks with the US Justice Department - over subprime mortgage dealing in the lead-up to 2008 global financial crisis - was that "thousands of people will lose their jobs" now, referring to restructuring planned by the bank through to 2020.

"They [current employees] now have to bear the responsibility for the madness carried out by irresponsible managers," Gabriel said. 

'Forces' causing 'unjustified concerns'

In an open letter to staff on Friday, Deutsche Bank chief executive John Cryan had said that "some forces in the markets" were "causing unjustified concerns." Cryan insisted that the bank had an "extremely comfortable buffer."

Frankfurt PK Deutsche Bank John Cryan (Getty Images/T. Lohnes)

Concerns unjustified, says Cryan

Bloomberg News had reported on Thursday that 10 hedge funds that clear trades with Deutsche Bank had withdrawn some excess cash and derivative holdings.

Shares in Deutsche Bank swung wildly Friday, touching a record low of less than 10 euros ($11.16) before rallying to close 6 percent higher at 11.57 euros.

Speculation over penalty level

Markets were rattled mid-September by news that the US had threatened to fine Germany's biggest lender $14 billion for its involvement in subprime mortgage securities trading, seen as one of the causes of the 2008 global financial crisis.

The Deutsche Bank share recovery late on Friday followed a report that it was nearing a deal to bring that fine down to $5.4 billion. That was followed by reassuring words from Germany's regulatory authority.

Chancellor Merkel's coalition, comprising her party of center-right conservatives and Gabriel's Social Democrats, last week denied it had prepared contingency plans to offer the lender a bailout. Any bank bailout would be unpopular with voters, and just a year ahead of federal elections, a bailout could present a gift to populist opposition parties.

Cryan also said state aid was "off the table."

A 69 percent majority of Germans oppose such state assistance, according to a survey conducted by the pollster Emnid and published by the magazine "Focus." Just 24 percent were in favor.

In July, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, a high-profile member of Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), opposed an Italian government plan to rescue the troubled lender Banca Monte dei Paschi de Siena.

Endorsement from German companies

Numerous managers of major German concerns endorsed Deutsche Bank over the weekend.

Insurance giant Munich Re's chief executive Nikolaus von Bomhard told the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" that he had followed developments at Deutsche Bank closely and saw no need to "reduce our business volume."

Jürgen Hambrecht, the chairman of the chemicals giant BASF, said he himself had just bought stock in Deutsche Bank.

"John Cryan has earned our trust," Hambrecht said.

'Always had a good name'

A Berlin property developer, Harry van Caem, told the Associated Press news agency that he believed Deutsche Bank would remain a big bank in the world and in Germany.

"Deutsche Bank remains Deutsche Bank," said van Caem. "It always had a good name and there will be a solution."

A VTB Capital global strategist said one major difference since 2008 was that the European Central Bank now had a range of tools to shore up liquidity among banks in the 19 countries using the euro currency.

Watch video 01:19

Deutsche Bank under pressure

ipj/msh (AP, dpa, AFP)

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