Its shares have collapsed by more than 90pc over the last decade, it has been through a string of scandals, paying out billions in fines, and it chews up chief executives even faster than the UK gets through Prime Ministers.
The mighty Deutsche Bank might have been a pillar of European finance in its prime, but the bleak reality is that it is a long way past that now. And buying Numis, the City broker, in a £410m deal unveiled yesterday, is hardly likely to be the acquisition that puts it back on track.
True, we know that standards in the Square Mile are not what they once were, but serious questions need to be asked about whether it is wise for Deutsche Bank to be allowed to buy a brokerage that serves as a crucial intermediary for many of the mid-cap companies that are right at the heart of the British economy.
We don’t expect much of Andrew Bailey, the Governor of the Bank of England, after the mess he has made of inflation and regulation over the last year.
However, a raised eyebrow would certainly be appropriate – and perhaps the deal should even be blocked.
It was at least a rebuke for the more swivel-eyed Remainers who only a few years ago were lecturing anyone who would listen that the City was finished once we left the European Union.
To listen to the predictions, Frankfurt would by now have become the only financial centre that mattered, and the mighty euro-zone banks would dominate the markets, while London was reduced to little more than a branch office of the global financial system.
It has not quite worked out like that. The City has hardly set the world alight since we left the EU, but it remains the only serious rival to New York on the global stage, and evidence of a shift across the channel has been limited.
Instead, Deutsche seems to have decided that it needs a bigger presence here, snapping up a broker that has more than 150 UK listed companies as clients – although the deal is certainly driven in part by a dearth of stock market floats this year.
Whether it is a good deal for Deutsche remains to be seen. Mid-cap broking has been a tough business over the last few years, hit ironically by cumbersome EU rules that split out research from trading.
There are lots of players, few lucrative listings to boost revenues, and the markets are often too flat to encourage dealing.
Numis’s share price had halved over the last five years, and showed little sign of recovering until Deutsche rocked up with its chequebook wide open.
Numis’s management and shareholders will no doubt be happy enough with the 70pc premium the German lender is paying.
Even if there are lots of opportunities for cross-selling corporate financial services, it will be a struggle for Deutsche to make enough money to justify the price it is paying, or to hold onto clients once the brokerage is run from Frankfurt.
The more important question, however, is this: How comfortable do we feel with Deutsche owning a bigger slice of the City?
Let’s take a look at its record over the last few years. In 2017, it paid $7.2bn to the US authorities to settle claims over its role in the subprime mortgage crisis.
In the same year, there was another $600m settlement over allegations of Russian money laundering.
It was fined another $2.5bn over its role in Libor manipulation. In 2015, it was fined $250m for its role in breaking sanctions on Iran.
It was fined $150m in New York for its relationship with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. In October last year, prosecutors raided its German offices as part of an investigation into tax avoidance.
The list goes on and on.
Of course, every major bank gets into trouble occasionally, and a few clients will turn out to be questionable.
And yet it is hard to escape the conclusion that there is, to put it mildly, something concerning about the culture of a company where the rules are broken so often, and where the fines run into tens of billions.
Nor is Deutsche exactly a darling of investors.
In the last decade the share prices have fallen by more than 90pc and it has been through a succession of chief executives none of whom have ever come up with a convincing rescue plan, nor a way of reviving its fortunes.
Only last month, after confidence evaporated in Credit Suisse, Deutsche was the next bank to come under sustained speculative attack, with its share price plunging. Let’s put this kindly. No one was really in the least surprised when Credit Suisse went down.
Deutsche, meanwhile, staggers on and will always have plenty of support from the government in Berlin. However, of the global, systemically important banks, it is probably the weakest.
Is it really the right owner for a broker that serves as a crucial bridge between the kind of midcap companies that make up the heartlands of the British economy and the City?
Can we have any confidence that it will continue to invest in its London operation, now beefed up with the acquisition of Numis, or will it always just be one “strategic review” away from closure?
True, we should welcome the fact that major eurozone banks such as Deutsche recognise the City is still crucial to the continent’s financial system, and that they need to increase their presence here if they are to maintain their global position.
And yet, it is questionable, to put it bluntly, whether Deutsche is genuinely the right owner for Numis.
At the very least, the Bank of England and the Government should be asking some tough questions. And if they are not happy with the answers, the deal should not be allowed to go ahead.