Deutsche Bank chair sounds out potential successors to chief executive

Discussions focus on leader who speaks German and works well with regulators

Deutsche Bank shares have fallen about 29 per cent this year. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Deutsche Bank shares have fallen about 29 per cent this year. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

 

Deutsche Bank chairman Paul Achleitner has held talks with potential successors to chief executive John Cryan as part of plans to replace the executive should a better candidate emerge, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Discussions have focused on a leader who speaks German and who works well with regulators, the people said, asking not to be identified. Mr Achleitner has sounded out potential replacements as part of normal succession planning, they said.

One top shareholder – asking not to be identified discussing sensitive matters – said Mr Cryan remained the best choice as chief executive of the bank.

Mr Cryan has struggled to maintain investor backing after failing to return the lender to “controlled growth” as part of the bank’s third strategy revamp. A sustained slide at the investment bank has contributed to hundreds of job cuts as the bank seeks to curb costs and improve returns.

The shares have fallen about 29 per cent this year, the second-worst performer in the 43-member Bloomberg Europe 500 Banks and Financial Services Index.

“Deutsche Bank’s restructuring isn’t going as some had hoped and that’s bound to raise questions about management,” Daniel Regli, an analyst at MainFirst in Zurich who has an underperform recommendation on Deutsche Bank shares, said on Tuesday. “I don’t think Cryan is the problem: it goes deeper.”

Shareholder discontent

While much of the focus of shareholder discontent has focused on Mr Cryan, one top shareholder criticised Mr Achleitner for the perceived failure to find a replacement for him more quickly. Other analysts and investors – pointing to the turmoil at the bank during the chairman’s tenure – also said that the chairman bears responsibility for the bank’s travails.

Finding the right kind of replacement for Mr Cryan may prove tricky. At least two top shareholders don’t think that the two deputy chief executives – retail co-head Christian Sewing and investment bank co-head Marcus Schenck – are chief executive material just yet. Mr Schenck is partly responsible for the investment bank’s performance and Mr Sewing doesn’t have the necessary investment banking expertise, according to people briefed on the investors’s thinking. – Bloomberg