By almost any measure, 2017 was an annus horribilis for Deutsche Börse. The German stock-exchanges operator is still wincing from a failed merger with the London Stock Exchange, a top-level criminal probe, and a slashed earnings forecast in a year that began with high hopes.
Deutsche Börse’s biggest shareholders, including asset management giants BlackRock and Artisan Partners with a combined holding of over 11 percent, are expecting new CEO Theodor Weimer to guide the company into calmer waters in 2018. The former McKinsey consultant and erstwhile head of UniCredit’s German subsidiary HypoVereinsbank succeeds Carsten Kengeter, who stepped down last October after a long-running investigation into alleged insider trading. (Mr. Kengeter denied any wrongdoing.) The main issue now for Deutsche Börse is to restore “internal credibility of the management board and the supervisory board,” said Ingo Speich, a portfolio manager at Union Investment in Frankfurt.
Bristling with ambitious plans, Mr. Kengeter shook up Deutsche Börse after taking office in the summer of 2015, reshuffling the executive board of directors and creating group-wide units for marketing and product development. However, it was never clear how these units should mesh with existing business departments, and the new structure had too many chiefs and too few Indians. Staff are counting on the new CEO to give the company a clearer, leaner structure, and to show more appreciation for their opinions and the current business model than Mr. Kengeter did.