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Deutsche Bank announces highest profits in 15 years

February 2, 2023

Germany's biggest bank has said it has posted its highest profits since 2007 following a strategic overhaul in 2019. This comes despite the scandals that have repeatedly beset the lender.

Twin towers of Deutsche Bank headquarters
Deutsche Bank is headquartered in Frankfurt am MainImage: Daniel Kubirski/picture alliance

Deutsche Bank, Germany's richest lender, announced on Thursday that its 2022 profits were the highest since a record year in 2007, with CEO Christian Sewing attributing the financial success to a realignment under his leadership.

The scandal-hit bank, which recently suffered several years of losses, undertook a strategic overhaul in 2019 that included thousands of job cuts and a bigger focus on Europe.

What did the bank say about its earnings?

The bank said its net profits rose to €5.03 billion ($5.5 billion), up from €1.9 billion in 2021.

Full-year revenues for 2022 climbed to €27.2 billion, an increase of 7% over the previous year.

The figures include a one-off tax benefit of €1.4 billion, the bank said.

The announced profits mark a return to the level of earnings reached by the bank in the period prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

Sewing, who has led the bank since 2018, said in a statement: "Over the past three and a half years we have successfully transformed Deutsche Bank."  

"By focusing on our strengths, we have become significantly more profitable, diversified and efficient," he said.

During his time at the helm, the bank has reduced its investment banking activities, ended global equity trading and integrated another German bank, Postbank, into its retail banking business.

Christian Sewing
Christian Sewing has promised better returns for shareholdersImage: dpa

What are some reasons for the high profits?

Deutsche Bank appears to have benefited from the recent hikes in interest rates by European Central Bank in a bid to combat inflation. The raises put an end to years of very low rates that pushed down the income of banks in the eurozone. 

There has also been good revenue growth in Deutsche Bank's investment banking and corporate banking divisions.

The bank will give an update on its strategy and outlook on March 2.

What are some of the scandals that have hit the bank?

In 2017, the bank agreed on a settlement of $7.2 billion ($6.5 billion) with US authorities for buying up poorly secured mortgages in the US and selling them on to other banks as secure investment products that were later made worthless by the crash of the subprime credit market. Internally, the bank had made a lot of money by betting on the crash, which caused the 2008 financial crisis. 

In 2015, the bank was also found to have used stock transactions to launder $10 billion worth of dirty money in Russian rubles. US authorities intervened, as the transactions were in dollars, and forced Deutsche Bank to pay $600 million as a penalty.

In recent years, the bank has been punished for manipulating interest rates, violating a US embargo on Iran and having a financial relationship with convicted US sex offender and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

Revelations gleaned from the leaked FinCEN files have also suggested the bank's top management knew about suspicious transactions amounting to over $1 trillion dollars.

tj/sms (dpa, AFP)

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