Morning Coffee: Ex-Goldman banker said to find a lot of fat to cut at Deutsche Bank. Getting into Google
That didn’t take long. Just three weeks after the ousting of CEO John Cryan and his replacement by Christian Sewing, it seems that elements of Deutsche Bank’s “Project Colombo” review of its investment bank is coming to fruition. In the initial cross hairs is the bank’s U.S. equities business, now run by ex-Goldman Sachs banker Peter Selman. Bloomberg reports that DB U.S. equities staff face, “extensive cuts,” with details potentially communicated as early as this week. Four months into the job, the implication is that Selman has scented blood.
Unfortunately for anyone hoping to keep his or her U.S. equities job at DB, this makes total sense. Research firm Tricumen says Deutsche Bank’s U.S. equities business is incredibly unprofitable compared to peers, and margins in the division significantly deteriorated in 2017. After 10 consecutive quarters of declining U.S. equities revenues globally, J.P. Morgan’s banking analysts estimate that costs in the unit need to be cut by 20% simply to break-even.
The danger is that Selman, who joined with a mandate to turn DB’s equities business around, decides to do something even more dramatic than peripheral trimming and to pull back from entire areas of the business instead. U.S. banks like Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan have grown their equities operations by focusing on low latency trading and prime brokerage. Selman could yet decide to double-down on these areas and ditch the rest. Before he went, Cryan noted that equities trading was moving away from banks and that what remained was increasingly automated, reducing the need for humans. It doesn’t help that Deutsche’s U.S. equities people (as with most people at the German bank on Wall Street) are on high salaries to compensate for European bonus restrictions. If Selman wants to cut costs, he’ll need to cut heads too; if you’re at Deutsche, watch yours.
Separately, Google seems to have been doing some wild hiring. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, said yesterday that it added almost 5,000 employees in the past quarter, around 50 new hires a day. Sounds exciting? Unfortunately, Recode notes that 3,000 of the new additions were engineers in Taiwan at HTC, the phone manufacturer acquired by Alphabet. The other 2,000 wereauthentic hires, and seem to have been particularly in the cloud computing space, where Google is investing heavily.