BHF's Lenny Fischer

A Dream Deferred

BHF banker Lenny Fischer is already planning his comeback, sources say. Credit: Bloomberg
BHF banker Lenny Fischer is already planning his comeback, sources say.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Once a major name in German private banking, BHF has been undermined by repeated takeover battles in recent years.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Mr. Fischer’s plans to create a small upscale bank centered around BHF have ended with a hostile takeover bid.
    • Regardless of how the deals shake out, Mr. Fischer will be denied any operational role and will, at best, be offered a seat on the supervisory board.
    • Still, banking industry sources say Mr. Fischer’s entrepreneurial thirst remains unquenched and he is plotting a comeback.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Lenny Fischer’s vision was within reach.

The charismatic German banker wanted to build a small but upscale European financial conglomerate with the venerable Frankfurt-based BHF Bank at its core. But his dream was deferred when the merchant bank became the object of an ugly takeover battle between the chairman and a member of the board of directors at BHF Kleinwort Benson Group Holding, which Mr. Fischer himself initiated.

Two major shareholders are squaring off in the fight for the holding company, which is the parent of BHF Bank. They are Shanghai-based Fosun International Ltd. and Paris-based Oddo Group, both of which hold about 20 percent of the shares. Now, in the wake of Fosun’s hostile takeover bid and the higher counteroffer by Oddo, Mr. Fischer’s career appears to be coming to an end.

That’s because there will be no hands-on role for Mr. Fischer if the French are successful in their bid. Philippe Oddo, managing partner of the Oddo Group, left no doubt in a conversation with Handelsblatt when he said Mr. Fischer would “have an operative role only as long as is necessary,” but added that he planned to retain Mr. Fischer as a member of the supervisory board.

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