(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are his own)
By Dominic Elliott
LONDON, Nov 27 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Josef Ackermann has
evoked the ghost of Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) past. The German
lender’s former chief executive has criticised current co-CEO
Anshu Jain for choosing to pass on a parliamentary hearing on
Libor. Deutsche has certainly erred in keeping Jain back – not
least because it has given Ackermann the chance to revive an
unseemly Deutsche custom of undermining new leadership.
Jain is under no obligation to attend the finance committee
hearing on Nov. 28. Indeed, Ackermann himself declined an
invitation to a similar Bundestag hearing on tax havens in May
2009. Companies often dispatch other executives in place of CEOs
to such hearings; this time, Deutsche is sending chief
compliance officer Stephan Leithner.
But it would be better if Jain was attending. He is still
relatively new in the top job and needs to earn public respect.
He was responsible for Deutsche's markets business during the
period when Barclays (BARC.L) attempted to rig Libor. The
hearing would have been a good place to start addressing
questions about how Deutsche handled its own Libor submissions.
With German elections looming next year, his absence makes him a
political football. Green party politician Gerard Schick has
already accused him of "chickening out".
An appearance would also have allayed concerns that
Indian-born Jain is out of touch with Germany. The appointment
of Juergen Fitschen as a co-CEO was intended to address the
issue, but the episode shows the co-head structure doesn’t
insulate Jain from attack. There is no indication that Jain
shrank from the task, as Ackermann has implied. But if it was a
board decision to send Leithner, Jain could have insisted
otherwise. Awkwardly, a u-turn now would look like a victory for
Only last month, Ackermann reportedly attacked Jain's stance
on the policies of the European Central Bank. The criticism
evokes the top-level browbeating that has characterised
Deutsche's boardroom for years, usually with Ackermann on the
receiving end. Supervisory board member Ulrich Cartellieri
described him as "out of control" in 2004. A year later former
Deutsche chief Rolf Breuer speculated whether Ackermann would be
forced to step down. This is how things go at Deutsche. Still,
that will be of small comfort to Jain.
SIGN UP FOR BREAKINGVIEWS EMAIL ALERTS:
- The former head of Germany's Deutsche Bank Josef Ackermann
criticised his successor Anshu Jain for not agreeing to appear
at a German parliamentary committee hearing on Libor
manipulation, Reuters reported on Nov. 26.
- "I always took these tasks upon myself," Ackermann said at
a Nov. 26 conference organised by business daily newspaper
Handelsblatt in Frankfurt. "I think that in this instance, it is
the boss who belongs on stage."
- On Nov. 22, Gerard Schick, a politician in Germany's Green
party, accused Indian-born Jain of "chickening out". Stephan
Leithner, Deutsche Bank's chief compliance officer, will attend
the Nov. 28 hearing in Jain's place.
- Birgit Reinemund, chair of the committee, told Reuters on
Nov. 22 that Deutsche Bank had not given a reason for the switch
but said it was not unusual.
- Reuters: Ex Deutsche Bank CEO criticises successor for
skipping hearing [ID:nL5E8MQFG9]
Not so fast [ID:nL3E8LU39O]
Plain Jain [ID:nL6E8IP5CW]
Frankfurt am Jain [ID:nL4E8E82ZB]
- For previous columns by the author, Reuters customers can
click on [ELLIOTT/]
(Editing by Chris Hughes and David Evans)
Keywords: BREAKINGVIEWS DEUTSCHE/
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