In our web poll last week, we asked readers to guess who Deutsche Bank will pick as its next chief executive.
The bank’s succession issue has dragged on since 2009, when Josef Ackermann extended his contract to 2013, partly to give the board more time to find a replacement. With little progress since then, some shareholders are starting to demand the board works harder to bring the matter to a close.
In a letter, Hermes Equity Ownership Services said that the lack of progress in naming a successor was “harmful not only to potential candidates, but particularly to the company”.
To many outsiders, Anshu Jain is an obvious candidate for the role. As head of the investment bank, he is already responsible for Deutsche’s biggest business and has sat on the executive committee since 2002 -- but will the board will be bold enough to promote a non-German speaker to the head of one of Germany’s most high-profile boardrooms?
Barclays embraced an American group chief executive in Bob Diamond, but British companies benefit from English being the international language of business – they can draw from a global talent pool without worrying that their new chief executive will need a translator for press conferences.
Economist and academic Axel Weber is rumoured to be the favourite German-speaking candidate. He lacks experience of running a private-sector bank, but gained a good reputation in the financial markets during his seven years as head of the Bundesbank. Speculation about his candidacy has risen since February, when he pulled out of the race to head the European central bank and announced his early departure from the Bundesbank.
After the farcical boardroom battle at HSBC last year, investors simply want the issue settled one way or the other.
Our readers were undecided, with votes almost split evenly between Jain (28%) and Weber or another German-speaking candidate (29%), while the remaining 43% reckoned that Deutsche’s gun-running Hong Kong banker would be the best pick – a result that can be interpreted as a protest against his unfair treatment, perhaps?