| FRANKFURT, June 24
FRANKFURT, June 24 The head of Morgan Stanley's
German unit has offered to step down following an uproar
over emails he reportedly exchanged with a regional politician,
and the bank has not yet decided whether to accept his
resignation, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The departure of Dirk Notheis would be a blow for the U.S.
investment bank, which had come to rely heavily on him to
deliver lucrative advisory roles in mergers and acquisitions,
known as mandates.
The 44-year-old Notheis is one of Germany's best-connected
dealmakers with close ties to Berlin, a fact that rivals say has
helped Morgan Stanley snare mandates involving companies that
are partially state-owned.
Emails published in the German newspapers Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung and Handelsblatt in the past week suggest
Notheis gave strategic advice on moves by politicians in a way
that has drawn sharp public criticism. The emails were not
independently verified by Reuters.
In some of the emails, he appears to ask to keep German
Chancellor Angela Merkel - whom he refers to as Mutti, German
for "mom" - out of the loop until just before a controversial
deal to nationalise an energy utility was completed in 2010.
Morgan Stanley declined to comment.
The correspondence highlights the delicate and often cosy
nature of relationships among senior bankers and politicians
negotiating multibillion-euro deals involving public-sector
Earlier this year, senior JPMorgan Chase & Co banker
Ian Hannam resigned following a high-profile clash with
Britain's financial services watchdog over the level of
disclosure during multibillion-euro deals.
Notheis got into hot water over his emails to Stefan Mappus,
then the premier of Baden-Wuerttemberg, when the southern German
state was seeking to buy a 45 percent stake in local utility
provider EnBW from French utility EDF.
Notheis and Mappus are members of the Christian Democratic
Union (CDU), the same political party as Angela Merkel.
Baden-Wuerttemberg eventually bought the EnBW stake in
December 2010 for about 4.7 billion euros. But
Baden-Wuerttemberg has since launched a probe into the deal and
sued EDF, arguing they overpaid for the stake to the tune of 2
Morgan Stanley provided the emails to Baden-Wuerttemberg, as
part of a probe into the deal.
Since the correspondence was published, Notheis has become a
target of criticism among some Berlin politicians.
Frank Schaeffler, the parliamentary finance spokesman for
Germany's Free Democratic Party said, "This is scandalous
conduct by an investment bank. The morals and ethics of the
entire industry are being damaged with actions like these."
Morgan Stanley has won some big mandates from Berlin under
Notheis, who at one point took a break from banking to help
raise campaign finance for Merkel's CDU party.
So far this year, Morgan Stanley ranks second in Europe,
behind Goldman Sachs in terms of the value of
merger-and-acquisitions deals in which it was involved,
according to Thomson Reuters data. In Germany, the New York
investment bank ranks second behind Deutsche Bank and
ahead of Goldman.
Morgan Stanley was co-bookrunner for Commerzbank's
11 billion euro rights issue, adviser to Deutsche Telekom's
aborted $39 billion sale of T-Mobile USA to AT&T
and bookrunner for Deutsche Post DHL on a 750
million-euro exchangeable bond for state-controlled development
Germany retains a 15 percent equity stake in Deutsche
Telekom, a 25 percent stake in Commerzbank and a 30.5 percent
stake in Deutsche Post.
Emails from 2010 appear to show Notheis giving advice to
Mappus about how to limit time for political debate about
"Call a confidential meeting at the state ministry with
three politicians but without the supervisory board chairman,
initially without giving a reason," said one of Notheis' emails
to Mappus, as published in German daily Handelsblatt.
Merkel's assistance will be needed to help persuade the
French to sell, and Mappus should meet with French premier
Nicolas Sarkozy in person, Notheis said, adding, "Ask Mutti if
she can arrange that," according to the published emails.
Because nationalization of assets is a tough sell among
free-market politicians, Notheis advised Mappus to find external
endorsement, according to the emails.
"Ideally find a renowned economist who thinks its a good
thing. It should be somebody who owes you a favour," according
to the emails published in Handelsblatt.
He also advised Mappus not to get a second opinion. "You're
going to get calls from numerous bankers. They will urge you to
give them a mandate. You have to turn all of them down and tell
them you are all set for advisers. And please pull this off.
Otherwise it just causes sand in the gearbox and I really can't
deal with that right now."
Notheis, who has been head of Morgan Stanley's German and
Austrian operations, was named chief in February 2009, when he
was 40 years old.