Deutsche Bank bosses set to face angry shareholders

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) –


Deutsche Bank executives face angry shareholders at an annual general meeting on May 23 when their names could be added to a growing list of top managers denied investor backing, according to media reports and insiders.

Around 5,000 of the financial firm's owners are expected in a fortnight at the Frankfurt gathering which regularly sees small shareholders call bosses to account.

Deutsche Bank's executive team, led by Christian Sewing since last April, and the supervisory board, under Paul Achleitner, have both faced sharp criticism ahead of the AGM.

Major investor advisory firms Glass Lewis and ISS have urged shareholders not to endorse either board's performance in 2018, daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported Wednesday.

"Since the bank hasn't demonstrated that it's able to earn enough to cover its costs of capital in recent years, I'd tend to advise against" voting in favour, Markus Kienle, a Frankfurt-based lawyer who represents small stock owners, told AFP on Thursday.

In a letter sent to clients, ISS says the bank has suffered self-inflicted wounds to its reputation, especially with failings in sniffing out money laundering, as well as booking weak financial performance.

Deutsche responded that the report "does not reflect the current situation of our bank and its control environment" regarding risks.

Last year, ISS gave its blessing to executives, but a change of heart in 2019 could set the tone for the entire meeting.

In recent weeks shareholders in German chemical giant Bayer -- mired in legal woes after acquiring Monsanto -- and Swiss bank UBS have denied both firms' chiefs their backing, many of them following similar voting guidance.

Although the votes have no binding legal consequences, they are a grave signal to those at the controls of the companies.

Deutsche's former co-chiefs Anshu Jain and Juergen Fitschen resigned in 2015 a few weeks after a confrontational AGM where disastrous financial results and a heap of scandals were laid at their feet.

Germany's biggest lender remains a problem patient, continuing to tread a long path of restructuring alone after executives backed off a risky merger with crosstown rival Commerzbank.