Morning Briefing Global Edition

Achleitner Joins the Circus

circus trainer with tigers
Animal spirits at Deutsche: The cats are starting to bear their teeth.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • My Handelsblatt Morning Briefing Global Edition gives you an overview of the most important news from Germany and Europe – in a concise, two-minute read.
  • Facts


    • VW supervisory board chief Hans Dieter Pötsch is getting a €10-million bonus while the company’s rank-and-file is forced to pinch pennies.
    • Paul Achleitner has chaired Deutsche Bank’s supervisory board since May 2012.
    • In mid-March, the ECB cut its primary interest rate to zero.
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The crazy thing is: Both camps are probably right. The question isn’t whether things are going to spiral out of control, but when.


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The Frankfurt-based central bank has seen its job description morph from behind-the-scenes manager to crisis fighting superhero, monitoring bail-out programs, doling out emergency loans and propping up debt-ridden governments. But the bank is starting to get sick and tired of working overtime to pick up the slack.


A lot of people have been hurt by VW’s diesel emissions manipulation scandal – not least the company’s own rank-and-file, shareholders and customers. But one person isn’t feeling the pain: Supervisory board chief Hans Dieter Pötsch.

His shift last October from CFO to head of the supervisory board was sweetened with a juicy €10-million bonus – that’s €8.5 million more than his basic salary up to now.


And Pötsch finds that neither strange nor inappropriate. Since he didn’t ask for his elevation and has a contract valid until 2017, it’s only rational his base salary plus bonus should be paid out, he argues. Pötsch has agreed to forego his supervisory board pay for 2016 and 2017 so as not to double-dip. But somehow his rationale doesn’t fly.

His €10-million Dankeschön comes at a time when VW employees are being forced to tighten their belts.

Pötsch, as CFO, is one of the people responsible for VW’s crisis. Investigations into the role he played in the fiasco are ongoing. What’s more: His €10-million Dankeschön comes at a time when VW employees are being forced to tighten their belts. The very rational Pötsch fails to see that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, when it comes to sharing the pain. Never before has Volkswagen – literally, The People’s Car – been as far away from the people.


It’s not a mutiny yet, but Deutsche Bank’s big investors are starting to gripe – right now mostly about Paul Achleitner. In a WirtschaftsWoche interview, Deutsche Bank’s supervisory board chief didn’t take the kvetching sitting down. He defended his strategy and decision to hire John Cryan as new chief executive: “We were prepared.”

But as we know from John Maynard Keynes, financial markets aren’t driven by arguments but “animal spirits.” Viewed that way, Achleitner is the trainer and the beasts of prey are inching ever closer. They’re not biting yet, but they are starting to snarl.


My Handelsblatt Morning Briefing Global Edition is an e-mail newsletter sent to your inbox at around 6 a.m. each weekday Wall Street time. It gives you the most important news from Germany and Europe. To reach me:


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