Liquid or not, Deutsche Bank is in hot water | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 09.02.2016
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Liquid or not, Deutsche Bank is in hot water

Markets have punished Deutsche Bank after the lender took the unusual step of reassuring investors of its liquidity earlier than expected. But the bank's tumbling share price betrays the precariousness of its situation.

Shares in Deutsche Bank were among Tuesday's biggest losers despite co-CEO John Cryan's attempt to placate traders by saying his company's finances were "rock-solid."

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble even weighed in from Paris, telling Bloomberg that he had "no concerns about Deutsche Bank."

The lender, Germany's largest, currently finds itself at the center of a selling frenzy in banking stocks as concerns over an economic slowdown driven by China weigh on investors' moods.

Deutsche's share price fell 5 percent on Tuesday and is down 23 percent since Jan. 28, when the bank reported a 6.8 billion euro ($7.5 billion) loss for 2015. Its stock has lost 40 percent of its value since the beginning of the year.

Extraordinary reassurance

After similarly volatile trading on Monday, the bank did something out of the ordinary: It issued a disclosure on its ability to repay its debts a month before it was expected to do so.

Specifically, Deutsche assured investors that its ample cash reserves meant it would have no trouble making payments on some of the debt it has been issuing in the form of complex financial instruments.

The message on Monday said the bank's "2016 payment capacity is estimated to be approximately 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion)," enough to pay roughly 350 million euros worth of coupons it owes to holders of so-called Additional Tier 1 (AT1) capital on April 30.

Cryan followed up on Tuesday, saying Deutsche "remains absolutely rock-solid, given our strong capital and risk position."

But the lender's tumbling share price reflects the precarious position it's in.

Unease compounded by uncertainty

Holders of the bank's debt are of course most concerned about whether or not they will be repaid. But holders of Deutsche's stock want to know if it can successfully navigate the era of restructuring that Cryan has ushered in and whether it has a feasible model to increase its earnings in the future.

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Last October, Cryan announced a plan to cut assets and jobs and get the bank out of some markets to shield it from a repeat of the damage it suffered in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

So while uncertainty over the outcome of that five-year plan persists, some investors are also put off by the regulatory brambles Deutsche has gotten caught up in.

The bank has already paid $2.5 billion to regulators in the United States and the United Kingdom to settle charges that it manipulated the Libor rate, and it has set aside another 5.5 billion euros for any additional potential legal costs.

Then there are the other ongoing regulatory probes into Deutsche's business with mortgage-backed securities and dubious trades that involved one of the bank's branches in Russia.

Backdropped by the lender's 6.8 billion euro loss in 2015, those litigation and restructuring risks have raised fears that Deutsche may need more capital and that it may not be as "rock-solid" as Cryan would lead investors and employees to believe.

cjc/uhe (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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