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Deutsche Bank investors ask if profits sustainable, question strategy

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Deutsche Bank is seen in Brussels

By Tom Sims

FRANKFURT (Reuters) -Deutsche Bank investors on Wednesday questioned the sustainability of the lender's growth plans and called for a shift of resources from the investment bank, even as they praised CEO Christian Sewing for stabilising the bank.

The statements, made at Deutsche Bank's annual general meeting, come after the bank booked 11 consecutive quarters of profit after years of losses, but also amid bank rescues on both sides of the Atlantic that have shaken confidence in the sector.

Andreas Thomae of the Deutsche Bank investor Deka said that the bank's targets require a "tailwind" from the markets to be achievable, and rising interest rates have been "pure adrenaline" for the bank.

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"But how sustainable are these increases?" he asked management.

Alexandra Annecke, a portfolio manager at Union Investment, another investor, said Deutsche Bank had made a "comeback like a Phoenix rising from the ashes" but that a lot of work remained.

The bank's low valuation is a "warning signal", she said.

She called on the bank to shift capital from its investment bank to other areas in the bank that yield higher returns.

"Deutsche Bank is one of the European banks most dependent on investment banking, a poorly predictable, opaque business that is driving down its stock valuation," she said.

Sewing, who won kudos from some of the investors for restoring profitability, responded that the bank was "robustly and sustainably profitable".

"We are convinced to have the right strategy to reach our goals," he said.

It was the first annual general meeting under the chairmanship of Alexander Wynaendts, a Dutch former insurance executive, who succeeded Paul Achleitner in 2022.

The proceedings were moderated by a deputy on the board, Norbert Winkeljohann, who is a native German speaker.

Some investors said they would vote against the supervisory board's recommendation to re-elect Winkeljohann to the board because he is spread too thinly as chairman of Bayer.

(Reporting by Tom Sims; editing by Rachel More and Christina Fincher)