Deutsche Bank chairman resigns over Kirch case
3 April 2006, FRANKFURT - The chairman of Deutsche Bank's supervisory board, Rolf Breuer, 68, is resigning two years early over a costly verbal blunder that he made while he was chief executive of Germany's biggest business bank.
3 April 2006
FRANKFURT - The chairman of Deutsche Bank's supervisory board, Rolf Breuer, 68, is resigning two years early over a costly verbal blunder that he made while he was chief executive of Germany's biggest business bank.
An announcement by the bank after a special board meeting Sunday said Clemens Boersig, currently general manager for finance, would take over as chairman of the board, which oversees the management and sets broad business policy.
Breuer was caught out over remarks to a TV interviewer in 2002 that questioned the creditworthiness of tycoon Leo Kirch's German media empire. This January, Germany's federal high court ruled that one Kirch company which banked with Deutsche Bank was entitled to damages.
Damages have not been set, nor has Deutsche Bank disclosed any settlement, but the case, in which Kirch has sought retribution for the loss of his TV and film holdings, has embarrassed the bank.
An ad-hoc statement to financial markets said Breuer was leaving May 3 because he did not want the bank to be affected by the debate. His contract ran till 2008. Boersig is likely to be elected to the board on June 1 and to be made chairman shortly thereafter.
Josef Ackermann, the current chief executive of the bank, said Breuer had taken a decision in the bank's best interest and thanked him. Ackermann is also under legal pressure: he faces a retrial on charges of misappropriation at a company where he was a director.
Banking industry analysts said Sunday internal pressure had been growing on Breuer for months as Kirch moved in for the kill.
A relatively talkative executive, Breuer believed banks should be more open and less secretive. But the courts say Breuer should not have made public his views on Kirch's problems, because one of the Kirch companies, Printbeteiligung, was a Deutsche customer.
Breuer also promoted the expansion of Deutsche Boerse, the company owning the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, but had to resign as chairman of its supervisory board last year under pressure from shareholders.
Subject: German news