Deutsche Bank (DB) President and CEO Rolf Breuer told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting that Germany’s largest bank was planning to close up to 300 of its local branch offices and eliminate approximately 1200 jobs.
Breuer, the target of heavy criticism from shareholders after the failure of the merger between DB and Dresdner Bank, acknowledged that mistakes had been made, but indicated that the merger plans had become too complicated to implement, and would have adversely affected shareholder value.
The reduction in retail bank operations was widely expected by analysts who have noted that DB intends to concentrate heavily on investment banking, and online banking in the future.
DB posted record earnings for the first quarter, mainly as a result of its operations in London, headed by American Edson Mitchell. According to a front page report in the European Edition of The Wall Street Journal, it was Mitchell’s strong opposition to the inclusion of Dresdner’s investment banking unit, Kleinwort Benson, which ultimately unraveled the proposed merger.
Breuer earlier indicated that the reduction of its shareholdings in Germany’s Allianz was part of an overall investment strategy and had created “absolutely no friction” between the two companies. In fact, Breuer noted, talks had been resumed with Allianz in efforts to establish a cooperative agreement with the giant insurer in the retail banking sector.
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