ubs/axel weber

New UBS chairman puts spotlight on Deutsche succession plans

Axel Weber accepts the chairman's job at UBS, opening the door for Anshu Jain to become head honcho at Deutsche.
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New UBS chairman Axel Weber delivering his farewell speech at the Bundesbank in May (AFP)
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<div style="text-align: left;"> New UBS chairman Axel Weber delivering his farewell speech at the Bundesbank in May (AFP) </div>

On Friday, UBS announced that Axel Weber would join its board as vice chairman in 2012, and take over as chairman of the Swiss bank in 2013. The appointment has left many asking what this means for Deutsche Bank’s plans to name a successor to Josef Ackermann.

Weber was most recently president of the German central bank, where he worked for seven years. He is an academic by training and has worked as a professor of economic theory and international economics at various universities in Germany.

Weber’s credentials for the top job at UBS are impeccable. As president of the Bundesbank, he served concurrently as a member of the governing council of the European Central Bank; member of the board of directors of the Bank for International Settlements; German governor of the IMF; member of the steering committees of the European Systemic Risk Board and Financial Stability Board; and member of the G7 and G20 ministers and governors, respectively.

“With Axel Weber’s nomination, I am pleased that I can present a board member and future chairman who is an internationally renowned personality with an outstanding reputation,” said chairman of the board of directors of UBS, Kaspar Villiger, in a written statement. Analysts commented favourably on Weber’s appointment at UBS, highlighting the contacts he brings to the table and his in-depth understanding of the enhanced regulation under which banks now operate.

And it is precisely these credentials that saw Weber’s name bandied about by media as a potential successor to Josef Ackermann. Ackermann’s term as chief executive officer has already been extended once, in 2009. It is widely expected that in 2013, by which time Ackermann will be 65, the German bank will anoint a new CEO. The logical choice is, of course, Anshu Jain.

Jain has been a member of Deutsche Bank’s management board since 2009. He heads the corporate and investment bank with responsibility for corporate finance, sales and trading, and transaction banking businesses — namely, all the money spinners. It is estimated that 90% of DB’s revenues are derived from businesses Jain oversees. However, media has speculated about whether Germany is ready for a non-German speaking candidate to become the face of its largest bank.

Some specialists said that Weber was never a serious contender for the head honcho’s job at Deutsche because of his lack of commercial banking experience. Our web poll last month had half the respondents equally divided between Jain and Weber, with the other half voting for the wild card we threw into the mix, akin really to saying they had no idea.

Whatever the case, speculation about succession plans at Deutsche continue. And likely will do so until the German bank makes an announcement.

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