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Deutsche Bank Q1 'most challenging in several decades': CFO

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Deutsche Bank posted a 58 percent drop in net profit in the first quarter, to 236 million euros ($267 million) compared to the same period last year.

The group posted a revenue decline of 22 percent year-on-year to 8.1 billion euros which it said "reflected a challenging environment and the impact of strategic decisions to downsize and exit certain businesses."

In its core business, revenue dropped 15 percent in its corporate and investment banking division and 23 percent in its global markets unit. It said 2016 would be the "peak year for its restructuring efforts."

Shares of the bank rose 4 percent in early trade on Thursday and the bank's Chief Financial Officer Marcus Schenck told CNBC that there were highlights among the earnings.

"On the positive side, we made very good progress on implementing further steps on our journey, as in the focusing of the bank, we're exiting certain countries, we're exiting certain market positions and all of that is evidenced in a risk-weighted asset position that we have as per the end of the quarter."

Nonetheless, Schenck conceded that the first quarter had been one of the most difficult in the bank's recent history.

"I can't debate away that this has been one of the most challenging quarters over the last several decades," he said, "(But) we've seen the markets calm down a lot in March and April and the performance in those two last months is definitely better."

Schenck said he had no "crystal ball" to see if the rest of the year would pan out. "There is still a lot of uncertainty out there and there is the 'Brexit' question (the U.K. referendum on EU membership in June) and with China, it doesn't look like there's going to be a hard landing as some people had feared but still, things can go wrong."

"That said, the sentiment in the market is definitely looking more optimistic. (So) I think there is a decent chance that we will see the remainder of the year develop more positively than the beginning of the year."

The Deutsche Bank AG logo sits on the bank's headquarters, right, as they stand with other financial center skyscrapers during sunset in Frankfurt, Germany
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Remarking on the latest earnings, co-Chief Executive John Cryan said they reflected wider challenging conditions in the first quarter.

"Financial markets were challenging during the first quarter, largely reflecting concerns about the outlook for the global economy. This uncertainty led to a decline in client activity in the capital markets, and our revenues fell from the prior year, most notably in our trading and corporate finance businesses. Our results reflect these challenging conditions as well as the impact of our strategic decisions to exit or reduce significantly selected businesses," he said in the statement.

He said the bank had made progress, modernizing its IT platforms, the operational separation of Deutsche Postbank and "the continued disposal of non-core assets and the ongoing closure or downsizing of our operations in selected countries." In addition, "we markedly improved the process through which we adopt new clients," it said.

In the fourth quarter, the bank posted a net loss of 2.1 billion euros and full-year net loss (and a record loss) of 6.8 billion euros in 2015.When that data was released in late January, the chief financial officer Marcus Schenck said he expected 2018 to the first "clean" year for the bank as the lender continued to struggle with writedowns, litigation charges and restructuring costs.

As concerns grew over the bank and the stock sold off sharply in February, Cryan rushed to reassure investors and staff on the bank's stability, saying it remained "absolutely rock solid."

However, worries over the bank's exposure to the volatile energy sector and a possible cash crunch are still investor concerns.

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