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Lawsuits force Deutsche Bank to restate profits

File photo of a statue in front of the former head quarters of Germany's largest business bank, Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, January 28, 2013.

KAI PFAFFENBACH/REUTERS

Deutsche Bank cut its previously reported 2012 pretax profit by €600-million ($773-million U.S.) on Wednesday, hit by new charges related to mortgage-related lawsuits and other regulatory investigations.

Europe's biggest bank by assets declined to say why it had increased litigation provisions to €2.4-billion, forcing it to correct its Jan. 31 earnings report which already showed the worst quarterly loss in four years.

The downward results revision follows a supervisory board meeting at Deutsche Bank on Tuesday.

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Sources familiar with the matter linked the higher provisions to recent developments in mortgage lawsuits targeting other banks that have made it more likely that Deutsche will have to pay plaintiffs to settle similar disputes and backdate the payments to 2012.

The bank said its proposed dividend would remain unchanged and reaffirmed an 8.5 per cent target for its equity tier 1 capital ratio, a measure of its safety buffer for potential loan defaults, for the end of March.

Deutsche Bank's share price was up 1.8 per cent at 32.59 euros in early European trading, with Kepler Capital Markets analyst Dirk Becker citing some relief about Deutsche Bank's continued commitment to underpinning its capital ratio.

Along with many of its peers, Deutsche faces a barrage of legal and regulatory challenges in the wake of the financial crisis.

In November, a U.S. judge rejected bids by Deutsche and Goldman Sachs Group Inc to dismiss a federal regulator's lawsuits accusing them of misleading Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into buying billions of dollars of risky mortgage debt.

In August, Deutsche Bank and several other global banks came under investigation over business links to Iran, Sudan and other nations subject to U.S. economic sanctions.

Germany's financial regulator has said it would pass preliminary findings from a probe into suspected manipulation of interbank lending rates to the German finance ministry by the end of March.

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Deutsche said last year's net income was €300-million ($387-million), €400-million less than previously stated. The bank said full-year pretax income would fall to €800-million.

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