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Deutsche Bank Chairman Achleitner Is Searching for Successor

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Deutsche Bank Chairman Achleitner Is Searching for Successor

  • Search partly in response to investor criticism on succession
  • Paul Achleitner still plans to serve his full term until 2022
Deutsche Bank Chairman Looks for a Successor

Deutsche Bank AG Supervisory Board Chairman Paul Achleitner is searching for his successor after overseeing a tumultuous period marked by multiple restructurings, top management changes and a slumping share price.

The search is partly in response to shareholder criticism about succession planning, though Achleitner intends to complete his term expiring in 2022, people with knowledge of the matter said, asking not to be identified discussing private matters.

Top Deutsche Bank Investors Focusing Discontent on Chairman

Achleitner, 62, has drawn investor ire after overseeing a series of unsuccessful turnaround efforts that have caused the stock to lose three-quarters of its value under his watch. The Austrian, elected to the role with almost 99% of shareholder votes in 2012, has seen his backing slide to less than 72% at the last meeting in May, a low result by historic comparison.

Loss of Support

Shareholder backing for Paul Achleitner has fallen to a historic low

Source: Company filings

Note: Annual General Meeting voting is for actions in the previous years; votes in 2014 and 2015 were for supervisory board as a whole

“Mr Achleitner’s term as chairman runs until 2022. Beyond that, there are clear rules governing succession issues on the supervisory board; the nomination committee prepares them,” a Deutsche Bank spokesman said by email. Achleitner, who heads that committee, declined to comment through a spokesman.

Deutsche Bank shares were trading down 4.4% as of 4:05 p.m. local time, after earlier declining as much as 4.7%. The stock has fallen almost 13% this year, in part on skepticism about the lender’s most recent restructuring plan, unveiled last month.

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Paul Achleitner

A Goldman Sachs Group Inc. alum and ex-finance chief at insurer Allianz SE, Achleitner took the job at a pivotal moment for the bank. An aggressive expansion into investment banking had saddled it with a slew of misconduct cases, while new regulations and negative interest rates sapped profitability. As chairman, he shook up the supervisory board and won key investors to stabilize the bank as it paid billions in fines and sought to strengthen internal controls.

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But the former dealmaker, who advised Deutsche Bank on its Wall Street expansion in the 1990s, struggled to right-size the costly trading operations. Halfhearted cuts aimed at preserving the core of the securities unit left the bank in a downward spiral of declining revenue, rising funding costs and sticky expenses.

Deutsche Bank's share price has dropped steadily under Achleitner

His latest appointee as CEO, Christian Sewing, in July unveiled the largest restructuring in the bank’s recent history, including an exit from almost all equities trading and some 18,000 job cuts, about a fifth of the workforce. But the lender’s share price has continued to slide since the restructuring announcement amid a worsening economic outlook.

Those changes came with a further reshuffle of top management positions, when the bank parted ways with retail head Frank Strauss, investment banking head Garth Ritchie and Chief Regulatory Officer Sylvie Matherat. Sewing has also set up a second executive body one step below the management board known as group management committee that’s staffed with hand-picked executives.

At the supervisory board level, Deutsche Bank is said to be considering former UBS Group AG wealth management head Juerg Zeltner as a new member, according to people with knowledge of the matter. A former supervisory board member, Stefan Simon, has been appointed chief administrative officer of the lender and been replaced by Dagmar Valcarel, a legal expert and former Barclays executive.

(Updates with more details about leadership changes in last two paragraphs.)