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Deutsche Bank's investors are fed up.
Despite many big U.S. banks posting record profits, the share price of Frankfurt's flagship lender is tumbling and revenues are declining.
Germany's biggest bank which, not long ago, wanted to be among the five biggest investment banks in the world, needs some stronger medication to turn around its fortunes, according to some investors.
The bank announced Thursday morning it plans to significantly reduce global staff levels to less than 90,000, from a current level of around 97,000. It said it would cut headcount in its equities sales and trading business by 25 percent. The move comes amid a broad restructuring effort designed to reduce costs and restore profitability.
Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank's Chairman Paul Achleitner, who has presided over countless strategy changes and has picked as many as four chief execs in his six years at the helm, faces a vote of no confidence at an AGM (annual general meeting) Thursday.
More and more influential investors like U.K.-based Hermes are joining the chorus of criticism over the latest management changes and countless strategy upheavals.
He'll most likely not be voted out as the big shareholders, like Qatar's royal family, China's HNA and private-equity firm Cerberus Capital are still supporting him. But the big question is how big will the protest vote be. Former co-CEO Anshu Jain got a protest vote of 39 percent at the bank's AGM in 2015 and left the company only some weeks later.
"In theory, the shareholders could replace him today, it will not happen, but it will be a very difficult day for him," Stefan Mueller, CEO of Frankfurt-based consultancy DGWA, told CNBC Thursday.
When asked whether he expected Achleitner to serve for his full-term over the next five years, Mueller replied: "No, I think he will step down this year or they will ask him to step down this year."
Deutsche Bank announced more details on its latest strategy change on Thursday. Achleitner spoke in front of shareholders, saying that U.S. banker John Thain had agreed to head up a new strategy committee on the bank's supervisory board.
Christian Sewing, the bank's new CEO, plans to concentrate more on Europe and boost the retail side of the bank while hoping to slash costs at the company in a credible way.
"The bank is miserable at cost management and implementation," a source close to Deutsche Bank's management told CNBC, who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the situation.
"Strategies always sounded good but there was no clear commitment to also enact changes," the source added.
Sewing has to now show that he is different for his predecessors. "It's a make or break time for the bank." one senior manager at the bank, who also wanted to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the situation, told CNBC.
Right after his nomination and a presentation of the new company strategy, investors were disappointed about a lack of details. How many jobs will go, where will they go and how much will it cost? These are the main questions investors want to know when it comes to cost-cutting at the bank.
On Thursday morning, following the announcement of job cuts, Sewing said the bank remained "committed" to its corporate and investment bank, and its international presence. "We are unwavering in that," he added.
Another perhaps even more important question is the one about its dwindling revenues.
The scenario of a break-up or a merger with another bank, which for many years always sounded as a good but unrealistic idea, seems to be gaining more traction. Still it's only an idea, but the likes of Cerberus who has a stake in Deutsche and in Commerzbank, seem to be putting their money on it.
Deutsche Bank's shares have tumbled 32 percent so far this year. That compares to a drop of nearly 5 percent for the wider Euro Stoxx 600 banking index. On Thursday, shares were flat at the European open as the bank's AGM began.