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Deutsche Bank’s reshuffle leaves analysts questioning its future direction

  • Morgan Stanley said it ended the uncertainty on its leadership but added that there remained "ambivalence" on the shape and direction of its investment bank.
  • In a letter sent to the bank's employees, Sewing said: "We'll thoroughly analyze how we want to position this (investment banking) pillar of our bank in a difficult market environment."

Several analysts highlighted continued uncertainty at Deutsche Bank following its management change, despite shares of the German lender seeing an initial jump Monday morning.

Credit Suisse decided to cut its target price for the stock after the management change on Sunday. Morgan Stanley, meanwhile, said it ended the uncertainty on its leadership but added that there remained "ambivalence" on the shape and direction of its investment bank. It also said that the new CEO would likely be forced to announce new cost cuts.

"Given (new CEO Christian Sewing's) background in credit risk and commercial banking it could be seen as a signal of a move from investment banking," Colin McLean, managing director at SVM Asset Management, told CNBC in an email.

Sewing, a German national, was officially announced Sunday as Deutsche Bank's new chief executive officer with immediate effect. He was previously responsible for the private and commercial side of the German bank. Deutsche Bank posted a 497 million euro ( $610.15 million) loss for 2017, compared to a 290 million euro loss that Reuters analysts had estimated. This marked the third consecutive annual loss for the bank. Its investment unit has struggled over the last couple of years against increased market competition, in both trading and deal advising. The decision to appoint someone with a strong retail banking background is seen as a potential move towards a more domestic-market focused bank.

JOHN MACDOUGALL | AFP | Getty Images

In a letter sent to the bank's employees Monday morning, Sewing said: "We'll thoroughly analyze how we want to position this (investment banking) pillar of our bank in a difficult market environment."

"The priority is to leverage our strengths and to allocate our investments accordingly. And at the same time we will look to free up capacity for growth by pulling back from those areas where we are not sufficiently profitable," Sewing told employees.

Octavio Marenzi, the CEO of capital markets management consultancy Opimas, told CNBC via email that "we can expect a much stronger emphasis on the domestic German market, with a focus on commercial and retail banking, and wealth management."

The move is likely to "hit Deutsche Bank's London presence particularly hard, where the bulk of its investment banking activity is based," Marenzi added.

The pressure could also be on Paul Achleitner, the chairman of the bank's supervisory board. Hans-Christoph Hirt, the head of Hermes Equity Ownership Services at Hermes Investment Management, told CNBC's Squawk Box, that Achleitner has a number of questions to answer. Hermes Equity Ownership Services is a shareholder of Deutsche Bank's.

"We don't say he has to go, but he has some very serious questions to answer ahead of the AGM (annual general meeting) and at the AGM on the 24th of May," he said.

"There are a number of questions," he said, "First of all John Cryan was his man, he handpicked him in 2015," Hirt said, in reference to the outgoing CEO. He added that Cryan was the third chief executive in less than six years under Achleitner's supervision as chair.

"We want to hear now about what's the plan, what the new management plan(s) to do, other changes to the strategy, what will happen to investment banking," Hirt said.