European banks face precarious future

Crystal Ball

If you had to pick the moment when European banking reached the point of no return, which would you choose?

The July day in 2012 when Bob Diamond resigned as Barclays’s chief executive officer amid the Libor rigging scandal? Or the fall morning later that year when UBS announced it was pulling out of fixed income and firing 10,000 employees? How about September 12, 2010, when Basel III’s raft of costly capital requirements started upending the economics of global finance?

Bloomberg News reports that all signature events, to be sure. But try May 21, 2015. That’s when Deutsche Bank stockholders filed into the dome-shaped Festhalle arena in Frankfurt to take part in one of the most venerated and, let’s be honest, boring rituals in corporate life: casting a vote on management’s strategy and performance. It wasn’t dull this time. Almost 40% of the bank’s investors gave co-CEOs Anshu Jain and Jürgen Fitschen a big thumbs down. While winning six out of 10 votes is a landslide in politics, it’s a crushing blow at a publicly traded company. By the end of June, Jain was out and Fitschen had agreed to leave the company by May of this year.

Investors are running out of patience with European bank chieftains, and no wonder. Since the fall of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, eight of Europe’s biggest banks have announced layoffs adding up to about 100,000 employees, paid $63bn in legal penalties, and lost $420bn in market value. 

To access the complete Bloomberg News article hit the link below:

The Never-Ending Story: Europe’s Banks Face a Frightening Future

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