News Bites

Hans-Christoph Hirt, head of shareholder adviser Hermes EOS, joined other proxy firms questioning the future of Deutsche Bank chairman Paul Achleitner. He urged the board to start looking at a succession plan.

Frankfurt’s general public prosecutor has filed charges against lawyer Hanno Berger and five former traders with HypoVereinsbank for tax evasion linked to so-called “cum-ex” dividend-stripping deals. It is Germany’s first cum-ex criminal case.

The German economy is still booming but has lost some momentum, according to the Bundesbank. Growth halved to 0.3 percent in the first quarter, its lowest reading in six quarters.

Thanks to the strong economy, federal and state tax revenues in Germany continued to grow in April, up 3.9% over the same month last year to €50.9 billion euros, the finance ministry said.

Deutsche Bank CFO James von Moltke said the bank expects lower restructuring costs in 2019 after spending millions on integrating its Postbank subsidiary in 2017 and reorganizing its investment banking unit last year. (Börsen-Zeitung)

Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann has signaled interest in succeeding Mario Draghi as president of the European Central Bank, in an interview with the Funke media group. It was his strongest hint so far in pursuing the job.

David Volkerts-Landau, chief economist at Deutsche Bank, criticized decisions made by Josef Ackermann, a former boss, saying these continue to hamper the bank.

Brussels called on Berlin to help set up an EU-wide tax on plastics that cannot be recycled.

Compulsory contributions for nursing-home insurance will have to increase next year after the scheme posted a €3 billion deficit last year, Health Minister Jens Spahn said. (Reuters)

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The EU’s trade surplus with the US rose more than 18% in the first quarter to €36.1 billion. EU exports to the US rose 2.2% while imports from the US slipped 5.2%, according to Eurostat.

German industrial orders rose 0.2% in March over the previous month despite the threat of a trade war with the US. German manufacturers have a 5.6-month order backlog, a record, according to the Federal Statistics Office.

Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer gets credit for the €3.2 billion compromise over truck tolls but Finance Minister Olaf Scholz is keeping most of it to cover expenses during the long-running dispute.

Envion, a German crypto-currency start-up, planned to make Bitcoins with environmentally-friendly electricity, but its CEO is now suing programmers over a loss running into the millions.

German providers of nursing care insurance forecast that claims this year will be €2 billion more than initially forecast, an industry association said.

Changing of the guard

Weidmann signals the obvious: He wants the ECB’s top job

The Bundesbank’s president steps up his bid to succeed European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi next year, and calls for a swift end to the bank’s controversial bond purchasing scheme.

Extracting concessions

New populist coalition puts Italy on collision course with EU

The new governing accord of Italy’s two anti-establishment parties poses the biggest challenge to the European Union since Britain voted to leave the bloc two years ago. Germans fear a financial blackmail of sorts is coming.

All at sea

How did shipping firm P&R lose 1 million containers?

Investors could lose more than $4 billion after the bankruptcy of shipping container leasing firm P&R. To make matters worse, prosecutors are now investigating how the company “mislaid” a million of its storage units.

Hard nein

German economists scoff at Macron’s euro-zone reform proposals

Sorry Macron. In the bloc’s biggest economy, most top financial experts are against a euro-zone budget and finance minister, according to a new survey.

Downturn fears

Temporary German dip or bye-bye boom?

Disappointing growth in the first quarter came on the back of weak economic indicators. The greatest single risk to Germany's outlook has a name: Donald Trump.

Don't mess with me

How the ECB built its independence into a fortress

The European Central Bank is obsessed with its autonomy. Overly sensitive to all manner of criticism, its rejection of external supervision poses a threat to the very independence it cherishes.

Sovereign debt

EU seeking bundled bonds despite strong opposition

The European Commission will formally propose bundling euro-zone bonds though Germany and other countries reject the idea.

Healthy or Risky

Germany’s biggest companies upped their debt to €638 billion

Enticing and extremely low interest rates led German DAX companies to increase their collective debt by 75 percent since 2007. They’re more dependent on a growing global economy than ever before.

Sagging Morale

Deutsche Bank employees weigh future amid jobs limbo

Abrupt leadership changes at Germany's largest bank have unsettled many of its staff. Christian Sewing, the new boss, is seeking to prevent an exodus of talent – especially in the United States.

Drop in bucket

Germany to use windfall for tax relief, defense spending

A forecast of higher tax revenue gives Finance Minister Olaf Scholz room to respond to budget critics.

P&L Check

Commerzbank has to protect its home turf

Commerzbank has avoided a foreign takeover and recovered from the 2008 crisis. But with Brexit bringing more competition, Germany’s second-largest bank will have to work even harder to stop rivals from taking its clients.

Vitas Vasiliauskas

ECB council member sees end to bond-buying program this year

Lithuania’s central banker tells Handelsblatt that he expects the European Central Bank’s economic stimulus will be phased out by the end of 2018.

FATCA

Commerzbank threatens to throw out US brokerage customers

Thousands of customers with ties to the US were asked to contact the bank as increased reporting requirements make US clients a headache.

Banking on Beginners

Silicon Valley Bank starting up in Germany

Seeking to tap the potential of Germany's sizzling technology startup scene, the American specialist lender is opening a Frankfurt branch.

Bah, humbug

Scholz’s first budget proposal criticized from all sides

Defense and infrastructure get shortchanged as the new finance minister tries to outdo his predecessor, Wolfgang Schäuble, in stinginess.

Rises and falls

And the Brexit winner is: Frankfurt

A CFA Institute survey suggests Germany's financial hub Frankfurt will benefit most among Europe's cities from Brexit. The results also indicate the UK's investment performance will suffer.

Last stand

Deutsche Bank’s Achleitner under fire by Glass Lewis

Investors in Deutsche Bank, including influential US proxy advisor Glass Lewis, are unhappy with Paul Achleitner. An upcoming vote could spell the supervisory board chief's downfall.

Real estate

Buffett brings his buy low, sell high strategy to Berlin

Berkshire Hathaway brokerage unit partners with local realtor to attract residents, investors to a booming property market.

Hopes Dashed

Olaf Scholz brings cold style, but Schäuble’s same message to EU meeting

Germany’s new finance minister surprised his European colleagues with a remarkably aloof presence at his first EU meeting. He also disappointed by continuing the strict policies of his predecessor.

Taxing reading

Germans taxed at second-highest rate among developed countries

Single German workers pay 39.9% of their wages to the state, according to the annual OECD report on tax burdens. The figure will renew calls for tax cuts, but they're likely to be in vain.

Mum’s the word

Draghi says ECB didn’t discuss monetary policy ‘per se’

The European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi found the perfect way to avoid questions about monetary policy – don’t discuss it.

deutsche bank, john cryan and christian sewing

The Q1 blues

Another ‘meh’ restructuring plan for Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank’s profits plunged 80 percent in the first quarter, while new boss Christian Sewing announced an underwhelming new strategy. It’s going to be another tough year.

Double Take

Finance Minister Scholz is looking a lot like Schäuble

Germany’s new, notoriously tight-lipped finance minister likely will take the same approach as his predecessor on euro-zone reforms and Greek debt relief. It’s not surprising: German voters are tired of bailouts.

Boo, hiss

Deutsche Börse faces chairman controversy at annual meeting

Proxy firm questions board performance after a turbulent year at the stock exchange operator.

Money for nothing

Draghi’s low euro-zone interest rates save Germany billions

Low euro-zone interest rates are deeply unpopular with Germany's savers and banks, but they have been a blessing for public finances, saving hundreds of billions in interest payments.

Not Deutsche

A luxury problem at Swiss bank UBS

UBS posted weaker earnings in its flagship wealth management business while investment banking, its stepchild division, flourished. Deutsche Bank, which could announce more cuts this week, will be looking on with envy.

Insurance Battle

Allianz, Axa in battle for digital supremacy

Europe’s two leading insurers are going head-to-head in a race to become more digital. In an age of technology startups, neither behemoth wants to lose out.

Pros and cons

Sink or swim for Deutsche’s investment banking

Profit woes at Germany's largest lender have raised doubts about whether to keep or ditch its financial trading activities. Handelsblatt's finance editors weigh in on the debate.

raining money

Deutsche Bank accidentally transfers €28 billion

The bank did not suffer any financial damage but the mistake is most likely a sign of Deutsche Bank’s deep-seated problems.

Float me, baby

Swiss IPOs shooting out like confetti

The Swiss have had a strong year of debuts as private equity firms cash in on high valuations. At least two more hope to join the party.

You’re fired

Deutsche Börse CEO cleans house as he readies new strategy

Theodor Weimer is wasting no time dismantling his predecessor’s management structure after last year’s failed merger attempt with the London Stock Exchange.

Changes at the top

Deutsche Bank reshuffle: IT expert Hammonds may not be replaced

In the aftermath of CEO John Cryan’s departure, Deutsche Bank’s executive board may shrink. But regulators will have to have their say first.

Life Insurance

Watchdog

German regulator to cut life insurance fees, endangering brokers

Germany’s financial regulator Bafin wants to cap fees for life insurances. This will put brokers under severe pressure.

IMF

Relations cordial again

Europeans drop plans to replace the IMF

Angered at a cold shoulder, euro-zone leaders had drawn up plans to expand the European Stability Mechanism into a rival to the IMF.

Skimpy returns

Investors being cheated despite record German dividends, group says

Listed German companies are using record profits and increased dividends to hide their unwillingness to appropriately compensate investors.

Schäuble's successor

Crunch time for Germany’s new finance minister and troubled Greek debt question

At his IMF debut, new Finance Minister Olaf Scholz must walk a tightrope between providing Greece some debt relief while avoiding backlash at home.

Wind-down time

When investment banking doesn’t pay

European investment banks like Deutsche are still trying to catch up with their US rivals. Is it really worth the effort?

Springer Nature

Science publisher hopes IPO will raise €1.2 billion

Despite a mixed record for German stock market flotations in 2018, Springer Nature, the world's largest publisher of English-language research journals, has announced it is taking the plunge.

Swinging Stock

Shares in Swiss central bank ‘as volatile as Bitcoin’

Shares in Switzerland’s central bank are so volatile that they’re being likened to Bitcoin. Speculators should steer clear, analysts warn.

Bullish on bullion

Gold still the standard for Germans

A Bundesbank exhibit pays tribute to Germans' deep-seated love of the precious metal while honoring postwar economic prowess.

Level playing field

High court overturns German property tax regime

The ruling affects 35 million properties and requires lawmakers to put a new system in place by 2024.

Conflicts of interest

Central banker Dombret urges EU bank supervisors to merge

Andreas Dombret, a Bundesbank policymaker, says Europe’s bank oversight needs a fundamental reform. The ECB, invested with major watchdog powers since 2013, is unlikely to welcome his advice.