Deutsche Bank CEO drops supervisory board bid

AP News
Posted: Nov 14, 2011 6:17 PM
Deutsche Bank CEO drops supervisory board bid

A monthlong battle for the future leadership of Deutsche Bank ended Monday with the lender's announcement that CEO Josef Ackermann has withdrawn his candidacy to become chairman of its board of directors.

Instead, that role will be filled by Paul Achleitner, German insurer Allianz SE's chief financial officer, Deutsche Bank AG said.

Next year, Ackermann will be replaced as Deutsche Bank's CEO by co-CEOs Anshu Jain, the Indian-born head of its investment bank division, and Juergen Fitschen, currently Deutsche Bank's head of regional management. That personnel move, announced after months of speculation in July, solves the succession question but has already raised other issues, not least how Jain and Fitschen will divide their responsibilities.

As previously announced, Ackermann, who also chairs the global banking lobby group Institute of International Finance, will step down from that role in May 2012 following the company's shareholder meeting.

At the same time, Allianz SE announced Monday that Achleitner will leave that company's board of management at the end of May 2012.

It was not immediately clear if Ackermann's decision regarding his future at Deutsche Bank had anything to do with an investigation of false testimony regarding him and two other Deutsche Bank officials.

Ackermann, who has led Deutsche Bank AG for nine years, said in a statement Monday that the current situation in the financial markets and the political-regulatory environment require his full attention, thus depriving him of the necessary time to hold talks with shareholders to promote his bid for the leadership of Deutsche Bank.

He praised Achleitner as a financial markets and banking business expert, saying: "His counsel is sought after and appreciated in the corporate world and in politics domestically and internationally."

Deutsche Bank, Germany's biggest lender, is a strongly interconnected bank and has been designated to be of systemic relevance to the world financial system.

Prosecutors in Munich said Monday that police had searched offices of Deutsche Bank's board of directors, including Ackermann's, as part of the investigation on suspicion of false testimony.

Ackermann, his predecessor Rolf Breuer, and the current chairman of the bank's supervisory board, Clemens Boersig, are suspected of false testimony and trial manipulation, the bank's lawyers said, according to German news agency dapd.

A Deutsche Bank spokesman called the allegations "unfounded" and condemned the prosecutors' move as disproportionate.

Deutsche Bank's leaders are entangled in a bitter legal dispute surrounding the 2002 bankruptcy of late German media tycoon Leo Kirch, which could cost the bank dearly, if the Munich state court were to find that the bank bears some responsibility for triggering the bankruptcy. Kirch's legal team seeks compensation of some euro2 billion ($2.7 billion).

The bank has filed a motion seeking to remove the judges in the Munich trial amid doubts over their independence, dapd reported. It is not known whether the search and the new investigation in that case had any influence over the leadership shake-up at Deutsche Bank.