Ex-Deutsche Bank boss Anshu Jain dies aged 59

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Anshu Jain, a veteran investment banker who led Deutsche Bank during a tumultuous time in the German lender’s history, has died. He was 59.

Jain has been credited with helping build Deutsche Bank’s investment-banking business, making the once sleepy German bank into a global trading powerhouse. When Jain became co-CEO in 2012 alongside Jürgen Fitschen, the investment-banking division he ran accounted for about 75% of the bank’s profits.

But the bank’s risk-taking and loose spending on banker bonuses backfired in the wake of the financial crisis, making Deutsche Bank a primary target for global regulators. The bank paid billions of dollars in fines for selling toxic mortgage-backed securities to investors and for its role in an interest-rate rigging scandal.

Jain died early Saturday after a five-year battle with cancer, his family said.

In 2015, Deutsche Bank paid about $2.5bn and pleaded guilty to resolve allegations that its traders tried to rig benchmark interest rates, including the London interbank offered rate. Regulators blasted the bank for misplacing or destroying evidence and not cooperating sufficiently with investigators. Jain, who was cleared of intentionally misleading regulators in the Libor probe, left Deutsche Bank shortly after.

The following year, the bank reached a $7.2bn settlement with the Justice Department over claims it misled investors on mortgage-backed securities it sold before the financial crisis. Soon after it entered settlements in the U.S. and the U.K. over so-called “mirror trades,” in which the bank moved $10bn of Russian client money out of the country between 2011 and 2015.

Deutsche Bank is on more stable footing these days. In 2018, it appointed its latest CEO, Christian Sewing, a longtime bank employee who promised to rein in risk. The investment bank Jain helped build has scaled back its global ambitions.

“Anyone who worked with Anshu experienced a passionate leader of intellectual brilliance,” Sewing said in a statement. “His energy and loyalty to the bank left a great impression on many of us.”

Jain was born to a middle-class family in India in 1963. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Delhi in 1983. At 20 years old, he moved to the US, where he earned a master’s from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Jain launched his Wall Street career at Kidder Peabody in derivatives research. He then jumped over to Merrill Lynch, where he set up and ran a unit covering global hedge funds.

READ The 10 things Anshu Jain must learn to say auf Deutsch

In 1995, he joined a mass exodus from Merrill Lynch to Deutsche Bank’s London office, where his mentor, Edson Mitchell, was hired to build up the bank’s new investment bank.

Jain rose swiftly through the ranks at a time when the German lender was eager to build its own Wall Street business to match US rivals. After Mitchell died in a plane crash in 2000, Jain was tapped to head Deutsche Bank’s fixed-income business. In 2004, he was asked to help run the entire investment bank, a job he held until he became co-CEO in 2012.

Jain worked hard to shed his image as an outsider in the cliquey world of German banking.

He took German lessons but struggled to master the language. When he traveled the country to visit with corporate clients, meetings were often conducted in English. Their grasp of the language, he told journalists, was superior to his knowledge of German. Still, he wowed shareholders at Deutsche Bank’s annual meeting in 2013 when he delivered a two-page introductory speech entirely in the bank’s native tongue. (Fitschen followed up with a 10-page speech in German.)

Deutsche Bank, under Jain and Fitschen, repeatedly fell short of its own and Wall Street’s profit forecasts. The co-CEOs said the bank had plenty of capital, only to do an about-face and go to shareholders for more funds — first in 2013 and again in 2014.

In June 2015, Jain and Fitschen said they would step down — making way for former UBS finance chief John Cryan to become CEO. The bank’s decision to cut thousands of jobs and close branches had earned them criticism from labor unions and the media. And Jain felt the language barrier was preventing him from connecting with shareholders, The Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

Jain landed at Cantor Fitzgerald in 2017 in the newly created role of president. He was tapped to help oversee the firm’s strategy and help it expand in fixed-income, equities trading and prime brokerage. “He has vast knowledge and experience across the entire global financial footprint,” CEO Howard Lutnick said at the time.

Jain was an avid wildlife photographer and sportsman who enjoyed cricket and golf. He once advised business students to move around the world. “When you are a perpetual emigrant like that, you are never in your comfort zone,” he said.

He is survived by his wife, Geetika, his mother, a son and a daughter.

Write to Charley Grant at charles.grant@wsj.com and Patricia Kowsmann at patricia.kowsmann@wsj.com

 This article was published by The Wall Street Journal, a fellow Dow Jones Group publication

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