Deutsche Bank after the Achleitner era | Free press

Frankfurt am Main.

Paul Achleitner said goodbye to a self-critical note: “I also assessed the starting conditions in 2012 differently than today in retrospect,” admitted the outgoing chairman of the Deutsche Bank supervisory board at his last general meeting.

“The road to the new reality has not always been easy. (…) And mistakes were made, and yes, I made mistakes.” He will be succeeded by Alexander (Alex) Wynaendts (61), whom the shareholders have elected by an overwhelming majority of votes for the controlling committee at the online general meeting.

When former investment banker Achleitner took up one of the most important positions in the German economy at the end of May 2012, outgoing CEO Josef Ackermann promised a “swept” house. The fact that the bank handled the financial crisis of 2007/2008 relatively well went to the heads of those responsible, says Klaus Nieding, vice president of the German Securities Protection Association (DSW): , we have to pay for it. “

Gradually, the mountain of expensive inherited assets grew, costing the largest German bank a lot of money and seriously damaging the image of Deutsche Bank. But the truth is also this: while competition from the United States cleared their balance sheets immediately after the financial crisis, the Frankfurt-based Dax group has been looking for a clear course for years. “The need for restructuring at Deutsche Bank was particularly great and the restructuring was undertaken too late,” criticizes Alexandra Annecke, fund manager at Union Investment, after Achleitner left after ten years in office.

Instead of playing in the Champions League, the once proud institution, in the style of football clubs at risk of relegation, tormented one coach after another. Christian Sewing, promoted to CEO in April 2018, is the fourth CEO of Bayern Munich fan Achleitner era, although he did not install the initially running Anshu Jain / Jürgen Fitschen duo.

The longer he went through Deutsche Bank – sometimes Postbank was about to be sold and then incorporated into the private segment – the louder the criticism of Achleitner became. In 2019, shareholders called for “Achleitner awards”.

Has Achleitner, who was considered an intermediary in the past, held on to the wrong managers for too long? At the time of Jain’s appointment, critics considered it doubtful that the Jain investment banker, of all people, would remove capital market excesses as co-manager (June 2012 – June 2015) and promote “cultural change.” Achleitner then brought in John Cryan as reorganizer (July 2015 – April 2018) but abandoned the Brit again despite his relentless analysis of the plight of the financial institution.

Spiegel Online quotes Fairresearch analyst Dieter Hein sternly: “It has been ten years lost. Shareholders may be pleased that Achleitner will leave soon. In his farewell speech at an online general meeting, a scolded man defended that in 2012 it was impossible to predict that ultimately a “fundamental restructuring” would be necessary “which would in fact take a decade”.

The trend reversal seems to have been successful in the case of sewing. The bank’s business has recently improved again, with the stock price leaving a record low of almost EUR 4.45, well behind. Last year, the group achieved its highest annual profit since 2011, and the current year started with a profit of billions in the first quarter.

After two zero rounds, shareholders should again receive a dividend of 20 cents a share for the 2021 financial year. years.

According to Andreas Thomae from Deka Investment, after changes in strategy, personnel changes and years of losses, Achleitner finally took the right course: “The restructuring with an emphasis on strengths has been successful, led by an appropriate management team, the bank is again well rated by its customers. “The task now is to consolidate profitability at a high level.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” says CEO Christian Sewing. In fact: by the end of 2022, management wants to increase the return on physical capital to eight percent, and by 2025 it should be up to ten percent after tax. In the whole of 2021, it was only 3.8 percent.

But: “pride” is again a frequently used word in the speeches of Deutsche Bank executives. He leaves the institute “with the firm conviction that over the past few years we have all set a course for a successful future – both strategically and personally,” concludes Achleitner. Second sewing: “You leave us and your successor a well-ordered house.”

The bank then plays a minute-long video in which current and former colleagues praise Achleitner for his “tireless commitment” to Deutsche Bank. The Austrian, briefly touched, previously moderated his successor on the supervisory board, the Dutch Wynaendts, who was elected in the fall.

The day after Eintracht Frankfurt’s victory in the Europa League, football fan Achleitner chose a sports comparison: “Of course you can win the Europa League from Frankfurt, even with an Austrian as a coach. coach. “With the Wynaendts election on Thursday, a new era begins at Deutsche Bank. (dpa)

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