Deutsche Bank Taps Wynaendts to Succeed Chairman Achleitner
(Bloomberg) -- Deutsche Bank AG proposed Alexander Wynaendts as its next chairman of the supervisory board, tapping the former insurance executive to guide Germany’s largest lender as it emerges from a decade of crisis.
The Frankfurt-based lender’s nominating committee recommended that Wynaendts succeed Paul Achleitner when his decade-long run ends in May, the bank said in a statement on Friday. Wynaendts, 61, served as chief executive officer of Dutch insurer Aegon NV for 12 years before leaving in 2020.
The new chairman will take over just a few months after CEO Christian Sewing is set to present a strategy update that will spell out his vision for the bank, following a four-year turnaround during which the lender exited equities trading and slashed thousands of jobs. Sewing has already shifted his focus from cost cuts back to growth, after leading the company to its first annual profit in six years.
Wynaendts worked at ABN Amro’s investment banking and private banking units before joining Aegon in 1997. In 2019, he joined the board of Citigroup Inc., which he will leave before taking on the Deutsche Bank role.
More than a decade after the financial crisis scuttled many Dutch financial firms’ ambitions to rival the giants of Europe, alumni of those companies are now helping to lead some of the biggest banks on the continent. Last year, Ralph Hamers left ING Group NV, the largest bank in the Netherlands, to take over as CEO of Switzerland’s UBS Group AG.
Wynaendts “is a European at heart with a truly global perspective,” board member Mayree Clark said in the bank’s statement. “He has a proven track record in the financial services industry, in-depth understanding of technology and has worked with regulators on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Deutsche Bank’s rebound over the past year-and-a-half, helped by a broad recovery in fixed-income trading, capped a challenging tenure for Achleitner, who took over in 2012 just as Deutsche Bank was forced to adapt to a world of stricter regulations, higher capital requirements and record-low interest rates. After a period of aggressive expansion under his predecessors, Achleitner initially struggled to steady the lender as it confronted billion-dollar fines for past misconduct as well as questions about its strategy.
The firm’s shares lost more than half of their value under the chairman, who oversaw a succession of CEOs stretching from Anshu Jain and Juergen Fitschen to John Cryan and now Sewing. He came under severe attack from shareholders when doubts about the lender’s course peaked in 2019. That criticism only receded after the recent recovery and the rebound in the shares.
Wynaendts has experience with turbulent periods. He took the helm of Aegon in April 2008 and saw the insurer’s shares lose three-quarters of their value in his first seven months as the financial crisis hit. While he returned the firm to regular profitability, the stock was ultimately down about 80% in his long tenure.
Deutsche Bank’s search for a new chairman initially focused on several internal candidates, most notably board member and Deutsche Boerse AG CEO Theodor Weimer. But Weimer publicly indicated he wanted to continue in his current role. The bank subsequently hired an executive search firm to include external candidates.
Deutsche Bank also said it would nominate Norbert Winkeljohann, who joined the board in 2018, as an additional vice chairman, alongside employee representative Detlef Polaschek.
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