GERMANY - Deutsche Bank is opening up its global asset management division to a full review that could include the sale of parts of the business, including its real estate subsidiary RREEF.
The German banking group stressed that it was still committed to asset management. It also confirmed the review would not include DWS operations in Europe and Asia, having already identified this as a "core part" of its retail offering in those markets.
A Deutsche Bank spokesman confirmed to IPE that the "strategic options" considered for the other parts of the business might include the sale of a division.
"[The phrase] 'all strategic options are considered' basically means we will either expand the business further in the division, leave it at a current level or maybe sell parts of its," he said.
He added that the review had been the board's decision and would be independent from the scheduled re-shuffling of the board in May 2012, when Anshu Jain and Jürgen Fitschen will take over as joint managing directors, replacing Josef Ackermann.
Deutsche Bank's global asset management division, which has more than €515bn in assets under management, comprises RREEF (€46bn), institutional asset manager DB Advisors (€162bn), retail arm DWS (€157bn) and Deutsche Insurance Asset Management (€150bn).
Deutsche Bank's spokesman confirmed the review would include the DWS business in the US, but he dismissed any direct links to a class-action lawsuit recently filed against Deutsche Bank.
Earlier this week, two US pension funds filed a lawsuit with a New York district court against several asset managers, including JP Morgan Asset Management, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Merrill Lynch, but also Deutsche Bank Securities and RBS Securities in relation to the bankruptcy of broker MF Global.
Connecticut's IBEW Local 90 Pension Fund and Missouri's Plumbers and Pipefitters Local #562 Pension Fund claim the defendants issued "materially false and misleading statements" regarding MF Global's business and financial results.
They also contend that the company's exposure to European sovereign debt was "not fully described for investors" and that, as a result of the defendants' "false statements",
MF Global's stock traded at "artificially inflated prices" in early 2011 before declaring bankruptcy at the end of October.
In September, Dutch pension fund ABP sued Deutsche Bank at a court in New York over mortgage-backed securities.
Deutsche Bank noted it has a 'no comment' policy regarding ongoing legal proceedings.
However, a different spokesperson for the group confirmed to IPE that the operational framework for the asset management business had grown more difficult due to legal restrictions, as well as the market environment.
This is something Kevin Parker, global head of asset management and a member of the Deutsche Bank Group executive committee, has also suggested previously.
Parker will oversee the current review, the aim of which will be to find the "best strategic option to maximise the performance and potential" of the division.