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Banking

Deutsche Bank CEOs seek change amid protests

Deutsche Bank co-chiefs Jürgen Fitschen and Anshu Jain have pledged to shareholders they will press ahead with changing corporate culture. Re-establishing public trust in Germany's biggest bank is the new campaign's aim.

In the past, Deutsche Bank managers had made many mistakes, Deutsche Bank co-Chief Executive Jürgen Fitschen told an annual shareholders meeting in Frankfurt on Thursday.

Those mistakes had done damage to Germany's biggest private bank not only in a material sense, he added, but worse even they had tarnished Deutsche Bank's positive reputation.

Fitschen stressed that it was essential for the bank to regain the trust of its clients as well as of society as whole, however, this cannot be done quickly.

Losses add to Deutsche Bank's woes

Deutsche Bank's new leadership duo, Jürgen Fitschen from Germany and India-born Anshu Jain, took over the bank's management from Swiss-born Josef Ackermann last year. Ackermann pursued a policy of earning maximum return for investors in the bank.

However, Deutsche Bank's new co-chiefs inherited a bank beset by scandals and lawsuits. Currently, Deutsche Bank is facing charges of manipulation regarding the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) which is a key interest rate in Europe. In addition, it is allegedly involved in sales tax fraud in connection with Europe's carbon emissions trade. It is also at the center of a United States probe into dubious mortgage-backed securities deals.

At the shareholders meeting, Deutsche Bank chairman Paul Achleitner announced that the bank's board would set up a committee for integrity to support the two CEOs in their endeavor. The committee was charged with assessing the risks from current lawsuits and the bank's tarnished image.

Co-chief Anshu Jain also sought to reassure shareholders of management's new policy which would be marked by a focus on customers rather than on managers' bonuses. The former London-based investment banker held his speech for the first time in German, but was frequently interrupted by angry shareholders blaming him for past excesses in the bank's proprietary operations.

The two CEOs described the bank's first-quarter performance as a good start to 2013. However, they warned against underestimating still existing fiscal problems in the US and with the eurozone debt crisis, which could add to a complicated business environment for banks this year.

uhe/hc (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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