Deutsche Bank CEO Search Casts Wide Net Amid Leadership Tussle

(Bloomberg) -- Deutsche Bank AG and its backers are casting a wide net to find a potential replacement for Chief Executive Officer John Cryan -- so far with little success.

A top investor in the lender and recruiters in recent weeks have separately reached out to Bank of America Corp.’s Christian Meissner and ex-JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive Matt Zames, according to people familiar with the matter.

Neither have signaled interest in the role, the people said. Discussions with other candidates held by Chairman Paul Achleitner earlier this year also didn’t lead to an offer for the post, people familiar have said.

News of the informal CEO search laid bare tensions between Cryan, who’s repeatedly said that he’s committed to the role, and Achleitner, who hasn’t backed the Briton publicly since, fueling concerns about a leadership vacuum at Europe’s largest investment bank. Cryan has been unable to restore revenue growth at the bank after reducing risk, settling legacy misconduct cases and raising fresh capital. Achleitner, too, has come under fire from investors for having failed to forge a recovery after going through three CEOs in six years.

‘Playing With Fire’

“They’re playing with fire by having a public fight between CEO and chairman,” said Davide Serra, CEO of Algebris Investments. “It’s just the wrong way to manage an institution.”

The chaos at the top is weighing on the lender’s stock, with Deutsche Bank trading 2.3 percent lower at 4:39 p.m. in Frankfurt trading. The bank has lost 28 percent of its market value this year.

A spokeswoman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

Meissner and Zames are both viewed favorably by at least one major shareholder, people familiar with the situation say. Before joining Bank of America in 2010, Meissner, 49, ran Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s German investment-banking business. Like Achleitner, he’s originally from Austria and once worked at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., where he rose through the ranks of Goldman’s equity capital markets business during a 10-year tenure.

London Whale

Zames, 47, is a former hedge-fund trader who helped tidy up JPMorgan’s London Whale trading debacle. He had been seen as a possible successor to CEO Jamie Dimon after he was promoted to co-chief operating officer in 2012. He left JPMorgan as COO last year with the aim of running another company.

The two are among several individuals outside Europe who have been approached for the German bank’s top job, but the challenges facing the lender are limiting the pool of candidates, the people with knowledge of the discussions said.

Achleitner has also contacted possible candidates including Juerg Zeltner, UBS Group AG’s former wealth-management chief, but the talks haven’t progressed to an offer for the post, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg previously. Other options included Standard Chartered Plc CEO Bill Winters and UniCredit SpA chief Jean Pierre Mustier, the people said.

Cryan, 57, took over the top job at Deutsche Bank in 2015, replacing Anshu Jain. Unlike his predecessor, he speaks German thanks to a spell in Munich in his late 20s, a skill that’s still important at the bank in order to connect with lawmakers and a domestic audience.

Losing Business

He is currently in the midst of a fresh review of the investment bank that could result in more cuts to the business. Garth Ritchie, co-head of the unit, is considering leaving as soon as this year, people familiar the matter have said.

The firm is losing market share in some of its most important investment-banking divisions. In international bond underwriting, the bank’s market share slumped in the first quarter to its lowest since the data begin in 1999, and in the space of a year it’s dropped to fourth place from first in managing loans for companies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

A dearth of external candidates may mean Deutsche Bank has to turn to internal candidates such as deputy CEOs Marcus Schenck and Christian Sewing, said one person.

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