GERMANY - Deutsche Bank has poured cold water on speculation in London that it is on the verge of selling all or part of Deutsche Asset Management in the UK, stressing that its first priority is “to fix the business”.
Josef Ackermann, Deutsche’s chief executive, told a news conference last Thursday that the bank was doing its utmost to fix DeAM in the UK, which has faced large outflows and an exodus of managers.
Ackermann also said that if Deutsche could not fix the business, it would keep “all options open”. The remark has since prompted speculation in London that Deutsche could soon sell all of DeAM or just its embattled equity business with institutional clients in the UK.
Industry players suggested the remarks amounted to a ‘for sale’ sign over the business.
However, a Deutsche spokesman stressed that Ackermann never once said the bank would sell DeAM the unit. “The correct interpretation of Mr Ackermann’s remarks – and this is what was reported in Frankfurt – is that the bank is trying to fix the business,” he said. “If we don’t succeed, we’ll look at other options, which could mean a sale or some other solution.”
Experts on Deutsche Bank also pointed out that offloading all or part of DeAM in the UK is simply not an option now because of the unattractiveness of the business.
“It would be almost impossible to find a buyer for a business which has suffered between €10bn and €15bn in investor outflows over the last year or so,” said Konrad Becker, an analyst at the Munich private bank Merck Finck.
“Deutsche has to restructure it first if it is to have any chance of selling the business at a decent price in the future.”
Becker also noted that while DeAM in the UK had certainly done damage to Deutsche’s image, the damage to its bottom line was so far minor. “My rough calculation is that the business has cost the bank between €5m and €10m, which is something that a bank like Deutsche can deal with.”
In a related development, it was reported that DeAM in the UK had lost another equity mandate – this time from the pension fund of the UK broadcaster ITN.
The report said ITN’s €290m pension fund had fired DeAM from running €14.5m in overseas equities, adding that the fund had placed it on watch for another €87.3m worth of equities. A spokeswoman for DeAM in London declined to comment on the report.