By Eyk Henning and Steven Arons, Bloomberg News
Deutsche Bank AG’s legal issues haven’t all been one-way traffic.
The German lender, which has posted two consecutive annual losses amid rising misconduct fines, booked a surprise windfall of more than 100 million euros ($117 million) in the first half related to an out-of-court settlement with a former billionaire who had sued the bank’s wealth management unit Sal. Oppenheim, according to people familiar with the matter.
The gain, reflecting the release of provisions for the case, contributed to a fourfold jump in Deutsche Bank’s first-half profit to about 1 billion euros. Litigation provided a positive effect of 57 million euros in the first half, while it cost the bank 308 million euros in the same period the year before, according to a company presentation last month that didn’t break down what caused the unusual gain.
The December agreement with Madeleine Schickedanz, who lost her fortune in the 2009 insolvency of retailer Arcandor AG and claimed she was poorly advised, ended a high-profile dispute dating back to 2012. Deutsche Bank didn’t book the gain until this year, in part because a judge only signed off on the settlement in February, one of the people said. The lender and its auditor decided against restating the 2016 annual report and released the reserves in the first half instead, the people said.
“Generally speaking, any excess litigation reserves set aside for a specific purpose have to be released in the period a settlement has been finalized,” Klaus-Peter Feld, head of Germany’s association of auditors, IDW, said in an interview. He declined to comment on any specific cases.
A spokesman for Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank declined to comment. The stock fell 0.3 percent to 14.07 euros as of 2:09 p.m. in Frankfurt.
The agreement with Schickedanz was less costly than the bank had expected, allowing it to release some provisions, said the people, asking not to be identified because the information is private.
Deutsche Bank never disclosed how much money it had set aside for the case. It said in its 2015 annual report that Schickedanz and the other plaintiffs were seeking 640 million euros. That amount had decreased to 390 million euros by the end of 2016, and to 360 million euros by the end of the second quarter 2017.
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