Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse Chairmen Reject Criticism in Slump

  • Rohner, Achleitner comment on support in German, Swiss reports
  • Deutsche Bank's Achleitner says he would run again for chair

Deutsche Bank AG Supervisory Board Chairman Paul Achleitner and Urs Rohner, chairman of the board at Credit Suisse Group AG, used interviews with German and Swiss media to reject speculation that they have come under fire as the lenders’ stocks trade near two-and-a-half decade lows.

Achleitner told German news magazine Wirtschaftswoche that his bank has an “intense dialogue” with investors, and that none have asked him not to run again in 2017. Rohner was cited in Bilanz as saying that he has spoken with most of Credit Suisse’s large shareholders and that they support its management and their strategy.

The men swapped out the top executives of Europe’s two biggest securities firms last year to spearhead plans to cut costs and reduce their focus on capital-intensive debt-trading businesses. Subsequent market turmoil has since made those overhauls more difficult and helped send Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse shares more than other global investment banks this year.

“If the vote was now, I’d run again,” Achleitner, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. investment banker, told Wirtschaftwoche. “I’ll face the responsibility, but I’m not stuck to my chair.”

‘Personal Contact’

Rohner, 56, has sought to determine whether Credit Suisse shareholders would support him for another term, Bilanz reported. The Swiss magazine cited unidentified people close to the bank’s investors as saying that the fact that Rohner will stand again this month is a sign that he feels he has sufficient backing.

“I’ve had personal contact with most large investors,” Rohner, a lawyer by training, said in the report. “They’re supporting the current management and want us to maintain the current strategy.” Rohner also called Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam “exactly the right man” and the “archetype of a classic, strong CEO.”

Achleitner rejected the notion that he didn’t act soon enough to address Deutsche Bank’s problems, citing the capital the company has raised, changes to its senior management and adjustments to its strategy, according to Wirtschaftswoche.

Cryan Staying

Germany’s Manager Magazin reported last month that Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani, Deutsche Bank’s second-biggest shareholder, opposed a second term for the 59-year-old, who took the role in 2012. Paramount Services Holdings Ltd., which is controlled by Sheikh Hamad, subsequently denied the report.

The Deutsche Bank chairman also said that he expects co-Chief Executive Officer John Cryan will want to stay on once the company’s restructuring is complete to “reap the fruit of his work,” according to Wirtschaftswoche.

The two banks are focusing on different businesses since unveiling new strategies last year. Credit Suisse is shrinking its investment bank and pivoting to wealth management and growth in Asia, while Deutsche Bank, which runs Europe’s biggest investment bank, is more focused on improving returns at its securities unit.

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