Deutsche Bank Warns of $6.3 Billion Loss in Q4

Deutsche Bank (DB) announced Wednesday it anticipates an after-tax loss of around EUR 4.8 billion ($6.3 billion) for the fourth-quarter, which would bring full-year losses to a projected EUR 3.9 billion ($5.1 billion). “We are very disappointed at this fourth quarter result, which leads to a loss for the year,” said Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann. “The exceptionally difficult market environment of the quarter exposed some weaknesses in our platform, and we have determined a number of measures to address these weaknesses. Implementation of these measures is already underway” The expected losses mentioned in the warning Wednesday morning were driven primarily by credit and equity trading activity at Deutsche, as well as further write-downs on exposure to monoline bond insurers. Such exposure isn’t likely to be limited to outside U.S. borders, so it’s possible that DB’s surprising warning is a harbinger of similar exposure that may be reported by U.S.-based firms, as well. Unlike some monoline bond insurers, DB noted that its results would have been helped had it elected to mark a large chunk of its debt to fair value — a decision not to do so cost EUR 5.5 billion ($7.2 billion) over the course of 2008, the firm said in a statement. In contrast, some U.S. monoline bond insurers posted large quarterly income gains during 2008 as the fair value of their debt fluctuated; oddly enough, the more distressed the firm was perceived to be by investors, the greater the value of outstanding debt contracts. Despite the unexpected warning Wednesday morning, Ackermann stressed that the the firm will still hit its end-of-year capital ratio target. “Our capital strength, which we have successfully maintained, allowed us to withstand these extremely difficult market conditions and to take necessary steps to de-risk our platform,” he said. Deutsche Banks’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2008 results will be published as scheduled on Feb. 5, 2009. – Paul Jackson contributed to this report. Write to Kelly Curran at Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.

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