THREE times since the financial crisis, Deutsche Bank’s bosses have turned to its shareholders for cash: €10.2bn ($13.6bn) in 2010, €3bn in 2013 and €8.5bn in 2014. Since becoming chief executive in 2015, John Cryan has had no plans to ask for more. Deutsche still needed to thicken its equity cushion, but disposals, cost cuts and earnings (if any: it has made losses for the past two years) would provide the stuffing.

Well, plans change. On March 5th Mr Cryan announced an €8bn rights issue. Some comfort for investors: the price, €11.65 a share, is 39% below the previous close; and Mr Cryan, who had suspended the dividend, promises a return to “competitive” payouts next year. In another reversal, Deutsche will keep rather than sell Postbank, a mass-market retail business that was once part of the post office. Deutsche has owned it since 2010.

Postbank and the posher “blue” Deutsche Bank brand will be more closely integrated—notably, sharing computer systems. Mr Cryan is also selling a slice of Deutsche’s asset-management division and some lesser assets. And he is reorganising its corporate and investment bank to concentrate on serving multinational companies, taking charge of the American business himself.

The shifts on Postbank and the share issue are two sides of a coin. Selling Postbank had been part of Deutsche’s plan to raise its ratio of equity to risk-weighted assets—an important gauge of resilience—above 12.5% by 2018. With the capital increase, Deutsche says, the ratio would have been 14.1% at the end of last year, rather than 11.9%. It should stay “comfortably” above 13%.

Mr Cryan may be making virtue out of necessity: he was struggling to get the price he wanted for Postbank. However, Deutsche says altered circumstances have made Postbank a better prospect.

Supervisors demand a higher leverage ratio (of equity to total liabilities) of Deutsche than of the many smaller institutions, chiefly municipally owned savings banks or co-operatives, where most Germans stow their cash. But this has turned out to be lower than first expected—so that retaining Postbank requires less equity. Mr Cryan also reckons that the miserable, ultra-low-interest-rate economics of German retail banking are improving and that there is strength in scale in a land of more than 1,600 lenders. Postbank and the blue brand each have around 5% of retail deposits.

A deal in January with America’s Department of Justice has also made it easier to tap shareholders. In September the DoJ demanded $14bn to settle claims that Deutsche mis-sold residential mortgage-backed securities in its swashbuckling pre-crisis days, and sent the shares plummeting. The eventual bill, $7.2bn, less than half of it in cash, came as a relief.

Though Deutsche still claims “global corporate-and investment-banking ambitions”, feeding the domestic roots looks wise: America’s big banks show that domestic strength begets strength abroad. But there is another lesson. Like many European lenders, Deutsche has taken too long to choose a course. Meanwhile, the Americans have marched into the distance.