Shareholders Rally behind Achleitner

Hauptversammlung Deutsche Bank
Deutsche Bank's comeback kid. Picture source: DPA

Major shareholders at Deutsche Bank, it seems, are ready to let bygones be bygones and give Paul Achleitner a second chance as supervisory board chairman.

According to information obtained by Handelsblatt, Deutsche Bank’s two largest shareholders, Chinese investor HNA and the Qatari royal family, will back Mr. Achleitner at the annual meeting on May 18.

It is a major turnaround in fortune for the 60-year-old Austrian. Last year, there was speculation that he might get the boot due to growing dissatisfaction among investors with his performance in the face of Deutsche Bank’s numerous legal and financial crises.

“Somehow he always manages it so that nothing sticks to him.”

Confidant of Paul Achleitner

In a conversation with Handelsblatt, Mr. Achleitner admitted that he has made mistakes during his five-year tenure at the helm of the non-executive board, which oversees management. He said that he underestimated the importance of good communication.

“At the beginning, I thought that people had to just understand what we were doing and why it’s right,” Mr. Achleitner said. “Now I know that, in this role, you have to do a much better job explaining why you are doing what and when.”

His remorseful tact is winning over investors. The influential British advisory service Hermes is also prepared to cut Mr. Achleitner some slack. Hans-Cristoph Hirt, the head of Hermes EOS, said he was content with the chairman’s performance given the enormous challenges he inherited.

Ingo Speich with the asset manager Union Investment outright praised Mr. Achleitner for bringing “fresh ideas and fresh people” to the supervisory board.

A confidant of Mr. Achleitner, who requested anonymity, said that in the end he always manages to rise above the fray: “Somehow he always manages it so that nothing sticks to him.”

Michael Maisch is the deputy chief of Handelsblatt’s finance desk and based in Frankfurt, Germany’s financial capital.

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