Helmut Gottschalk, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of DZ BANK AG

Helmut Gottschalk
Chairman of the Supervisory Board of DZ BANK AG

The defining feature of the year under review was the challenging economic and, above all, political environment. Whereas the economy proved robust in the first six months of 2011, the European sovereign debt crisis caused the pace of economic growth to tail off substantially as the year progressed. Political efforts to contain the sovereign debt crisis by integrating European fiscal policy more closely were of only limited success, as were the accompanying packages of measures. The long-term restructuring of Greece’s debt has not happened, and a number of European countries have seen a sharp rise in their risk premiums.

In the second half of the year, the European Banking Authority (EBA) carried out stress tests in the European banking sector with the aim of making it more crisis-resistant, especially in view of some European countries’ worsening credit ratings. Capital benchmarks that differed from those of Basel III were used for the purposes of the test. These stress tests have not had the hoped-for stabilizing effect.

As part of its work, the Supervisory Board discussed the capital situation of DZ BANK and the associated regulatory environment in depth on several occasions. The topics discussed included DZ BANK’s capital shortfall identified during the EBA’s stress test and the steps to close it by June 30, 2012.

Another emphasis of the work of the Supervisory Board was DZ BANK’s strategic focus as a network-oriented central institution and financial services group. As in previous years, the Supervisory Board held a special meeting dedicated to this matter, at which it discussed the strategy in detail and unanimously reiterated its commitment to the strategy.

DZ BANK’s success in pursuing its strategy was reflected in the encouraging business performance in 2011. However, write-downs on the bond portfolios of peripheral European countries and on Greek government bonds reduced operating profit significantly.

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