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Deutsche Bank enters new era as chairman's rocky decade ends

Economy May 19, 2022 01:11PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chairman of the board Paul Achleitner delivers his speech during the annual shareholder meeting of Germany’s largest business bank, Deutsche Bank, in Frankfurt, Germany, May 23, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach 2/2

By Tom Sims and Frank Siebelt

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank (ETR:DBKGn) looked to open a new chapter on Thursday as its shareholders voted in a successor to Paul Achleitner as chairman, after a rocky decade during which Germany's largest lender lost billions and saw its share price plummet.

Alexander Wynaendts, a Dutch former insurance executive, was voted in to succeed Achleitner for a four-year term as chairman at Deutsche's annual general meeting.

As a former head of Dutch insurer Aegon (NYSE:AEG), which also had staff around the world and a large U.S. presence during a turbulent decade, Wynaendts has experience that should serve him well at Deutsche.

Under Achleitner, Deutsche saw multiple top management changes, entered and exited merger talks with rival Commerzbank (ETR:CBKG) and also paid big fines for misconduct that regulators feared could topple the Frankfurt-based bank.

(Graphic-Deutsche Bank shares: https://graphics.reuters.com/DEUTSCHEBANK-AGM/klvykogbgvg/chart.png)

"I look back today on eventful years in what was a difficult phase for our bank," Achleitner told shareholders.

"We have all set the course for a successful future," he said.

Deutsche has more recently entered calmer waters after an overhaul that trimmed its investment bank and cut costs by shedding thousands of staff. It has posted seven consecutive quarters of profit, its longest streak in the black since 2012.

But control problems continue to plague the bank, despite efforts to beef up safeguards, something Wynaendts plans to focus on strengthening further.

Introducing himself to shareholders, Wynaendts said the bank was on firmer ground and would "maintain a strong focus on costs and controls".

Andreas Thomae, a portfolio manager at Deka, which is a big Deutsche investor, said he hopes Wynaendts will steer the bank "through a somewhat calmer phase".

But in a reminder of past problems, prosecutors and federal police last month searched Deutsche's headquarters in a raid linked to suspicions of money laundering.

Deutsche said at the time that the search was related to suspicious transactions it had itself passed on to authorities and that it was cooperating fully.

There was a small camp of investors who lobbied against Wynaendts, saying he was spread too thinly with board positions at Uber Technologies (NYSE:UBER) and Air France-KLM.

Wynaendts was voted onto Deutsche's supervisory board with 97.8% of the vote.

Deutsche Bank enters new era as chairman's rocky decade ends
 

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