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FINANCE

KfW to report more losses after ‘catastrophic’ autumn

Germany's state-owned development bank KfW is expecting further losses in its final-quarter 2008 results, following losses in the first three quarters of the year, the bank's chief said on Monday.

KfW to report more losses after 'catastrophic' autumn
'Don't walk' signal shines on a Beriln KfW branch sign. Photo: DPA

October and November had been “catastrophic” for the bank, chief executive Ulrich Schroeder told daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The bank would need years to get over its losses, he added.

Hit hard by the international financial crisis, KfW recorded a loss of €1.8 billion ($2.26 billion) for the first nine months of the year, a statement said last week.

Its bail-out of stricken business lender IKB, in which KfW owned a majority stake it sold in August to US private equity group Lone Star for €150 million, cost it €1.1 billion. Devaluation of its asset portfolio cost another €1.6 billion.

The bank was also exposed to losses in connection with the crisis in Iceland.

And it made a serious blunder in mid-September, paying US investment bank Lehman Brothers €319 million the very same day it declared bankruptcy.

KfW has fired three directors involved with the error, which made the German development bank a laughing stock in financial circles. The three have been dubbed “Germany’s stupidest bankers” in the press.

BANKING

German online bank N26 shutters US service

German online bank N26 said Thursday it was closing its operation in the United States next year, as regulators in Europe place the "fintech" start-up under increased scrutiny.

The N26 logo on a bank card.
The N26 logo on a bank card. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

N26’s 500,000 customers in the US would be able to use their services until January 11th, 2022, the bank said in a statement, after which it would cease to operate in a market it first entered in 2019.

Instead the Berlin-based operation would “sharpen its focus on its European business”, where it already operates in 24 countries and is exploring expansion into more eastern European markets.

N26 said it would also look to launch new “investment products in the coming year” to sit along side its current account service.

Founded in 2013, N26 offers free, online-only banking services to around seven million clients and is one of Germany’s most high-profile financial technology or “fintech” firms.

In October, the bank raised $900 million from private investors, and announced a plan to hire a further 1,000 employees to reinforce its product development, technology and cybersecurity teams.

READ ALSO: German online bank N26 to create 1,000 jobs

At home, N26 has been in the crosshairs of the German banking watchdog BaFin since 2018 after a local news media investigation found that it was possible to open account with forged IDs.

Earlier in the month, the regulator said it was upping its oversight operations at N26, appointing a special representative to monitor the bank’s progress towards solving issues in “risk management with regard to IT and outsourcing” identified by BaFin.

The regulator also limited the number of new customers N26 could take on to 50,000 a month until the shortcomings were addressed.

N26 was already being monitored by BaFin over failures in the start-up’s anti-money laundering system.

BaFin issued N26 with a 4.25-million-euro ($4.8-million) penalty earlier this year in connection with around 50 “suspicious transactions” the bank failed to report promptly enough.

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