Ackermann abandons supervisory board membership bid

Josef Ackermann has said the effort the current market environment demands of him as chairman of Deutsche Bank’s management board means he will not have enough time to talk with investors about standing as a candidate for the bank’s supervisory board next year.

His decision therefore not to move to the supervisory board, as earlier planned, could be seen as a victory of sorts for investors active on corporate governance matters.

They had earlier expressed concern he could be chief executive and chair of the supervisory board of Germany’s largest bank, resulting in numerous potential conflicts.

Ackermann could have made the transition after the group’s general meeting next year. He has chaired this board since 2002.

But he said: “The extremely challenging conditions on the international financial markets and in the political-regulatory environment demand my full attention as the chairman of the bank’s management board. This does not allow enough scope for the many talks with individual shareholders necessary to implement the original plan.”

The supervisory board accepted his decision with regret. Paul Achleitner, currently member of the board of management of Allianz SE was proposed as chairman candidate for the supervisory board.

Ackermann said Achleitner is “exceptionally knowledgeable about the banking business and the financial markets. His advice has been highly sought after and appreciated by corporate and political leaders in Germany and abroad for many years.”

Dr. Clemens Börsig, current chairman of the supervisory board, said Achleitner “has an extraordinary level of expertise and comprehensive experience in the financial industry as well as excellent judgment. This makes him an outstanding successor candidate to chair the supervisory board.”

The earlier plan of Deutsche Bank’s chief executive officer also to join its supervisory board, with a view to chairmanship, had caused concern among investors such as $23bn manager Hermes.

Its equity ownership service said earlier this year it “recognises the value that former executives can bring to the work of the supervisory board”. But it added CEOs should not aim to be chairmen of their companies’ supervisory boards.

However, it was not certain Hermes EOS would recommend voting down Ackermann’s move, as Hermes EOS director Hans-Christoph Hirt had said his unit “may in exceptional circumstances consider supporting the election of suitable and successful executives to the supervisory board”.

Hermes EOS, a leader in better governance standards in German companies, said companies should involve shareholders appropriately in the nomination process for supervisory boards, it discouraged linking too much of supervisory board members’ remuneration to company performance, it urged Berlin to push companies to limit supervisory board membership to three years, or at least explain why any longer tenure is appropriate, and it has said German companies’ supervisory board members should be re-elected individually.



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