Asset Management

Deutsche Bank plans for fund unit spinoff leave investors’ heads spinning

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Deutsche Bank wants to convince investors that an old-fashioned partnership structure is the way to go for its asset management IPO. Source: Reuters

Deutsche Bank is going back to the future as it prepares to spin off its asset management subsidiary in an initial public offering next year. In a pitch Tuesday to international investors in London, Germany’s largest bank beat the drum not only for the new listing, but for the parent bank itself as it tries to right itself after a turbulent year.

But the troubled bank doesn’t seem able to catch a break. In a surprise move, Deutsche announced that the spinoff would be structured as a partnership with shares – a traditional German legal form that will allow the parent bank to keep full control of the unit even if its shareholding falls below 75 percent. The structure has long been used by German companies, even large ones such as Henkel and Merck, to combine the advantages of a closely held firm with a public company, especially when a family wants to keep control.

But the initial reaction among international investors was critical. “Such an unequal treatment of shareholders doesn’t meet today’s requirements for good governance,” said one large fund manager. Another spoke of a “huge outcry” among institutional investors, who believe in equal rights for all shareholders.

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