Frankfurt The currently most exciting personnel question in the German financial scene has been answered: On Friday evening, Deutsche Bank introduced the successor to long-term supervisory board chairman Paul Achleitner by means of an ad-hoc announcement. The nomination committee of the supervisory board of the largest domestic financial institution recommends that Alexander Wynaendts be elected chairman of the supervisory body. The supervisory board itself still has to agree to this. According to information from the Handelsblatt, the bank convened the supervisory board for an extraordinary meeting at the weekend.
Wynaendts was most recently head of the insurance company Aegon. The 61-year-old also sits on several supervisory and administrative boards, including Citigroup, the ride-sharing service Uber and Air France-KLM. He started his professional career at the major Dutch bank ABN Amro, where he worked in private banking and investment banking in Amsterdam and London for 13 years.
In 1997 Wynaendts moved to Aegon, where he held various management positions before becoming CEO in 2008. During his twelve-year tenure, he led the insurer through the financial crisis that began shortly after it started in the summer of 2008. In financial circles it was said that the Dutchman had been on the shortlist for the post of Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Bank from the start.
However, Wynaendt’s recommendation is not the only supervisory board member at Deutsche Bank. The head of the supervisory body is to be expanded to include a second deputy chief. In addition to the employee representative Detlef Polatschek, Norbert Winkeljohann should become deputy chairman of the supervisory board, the bank announced. Winkeljohann has been a member of the Supervisory Board since 2018 and was also considered a possible candidate for Achleitner’s successor.
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The financial supervisors had been pushing for a succession plan in recent months. The supervisory authority did not want Deutsche Bank to take too much time with the personnel, people familiar with the matter had told the Handelsblatt.
It is important to the bank supervisors that a successor has sufficient time to familiarize himself with the complex issues. It has therefore long been considered likely that the bank would make a decision before the end of the year.
The banking supervisory authority is now paying close attention to who is going to join the supervisory board of financial institutions and, in extreme cases, can also reject personnel decisions if it does not consider candidates to be professionally qualified or if they fear conflicts of interest.
This was most recently the case at Deutsche Bank when the now deceased ex-UBS banker Jürg Zeltner was appointed. Since the supervisory authority was only informed about the personnel at a time when Zeltner was already on the supervisory board, the conflict escalated at the time. The manager then withdrew from the post and was later replaced by the SPD politician Sigmar Gabriel.
Weimer and Winkeljohann had canceled
For a long time, internal candidates such as Deutsche Börse boss Theo Weimer, the former VW CFO Frank Witter and the former auditor Winkeljohann were considered possible Achleitner successors. However, Weimer had repeatedly made it clear that he wanted to fulfill his contract with Deutsche Börse, which runs until the end of 2024. Winkeljohann had indicated that he felt that his position as chairman of the board of the chemical giant Bayer was sufficiently busy.
Achleitner commissioned the former investment banker Mayree Clark with the search for a successor at an early stage. Clark had set up an open search process and made it explicitly clear that she also wanted to scrutinize external candidates.
Clark is considered an expert in good corporate governance. After her time as an investment banker, she founded the Eachwin investment fund, which primarily relies on the quality of management as a selection criterion. “I am very pleased that Alex Wynaendts has accepted our invitation to run for the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Bank and to lead the excellent team that Paul Achleitner has built up over the past few years,” said Clark now.
CEO Christian Sewing said that Wynaendts has extensive experience in the financial sector and an excellent network, not only in Europe but worldwide, and the outgoing chairman of the supervisory board Achleitner praised the fact that the Dutchman has exactly the right personality and skills for the new job.
The new chairman of the supervisory board would take over from Sewing a few months after a strategy presentation in which he will set out his vision for the bank – after a four-year, sometimes painful restructuring.
Achleitner’s term of office expires in May 2022 after ten years at the head of the supervisory body. He had already announced that he would not run for re-election. In Achleitner’s two terms in office at the head of the supervisory body, billions in losses were made due to fines for misconduct by investment bankers in and before the financial crisis, money laundering scandals and two changes of boss.
Achleitner was controversial among the major shareholders, but survived several attempts to force him out of office. Above all, hesitant personnel decisions are blamed on him. Investors also criticized the fact that he had relied on a broad portfolio in investment banking for too long. However, with the appointment of the current CEO Sewing, he initiated the repositioning of Deutsche Bank.
More: Mayree Clark is supposed to do one of the most delicate jobs in the German banking scene