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Deutsche Bank enters new era as chairman’s rocky decade ends

by wrich
gawdo

By Tom Sims and Frank Siebelt

FRANKFURT (Reuters) -Deutsche Bank begins a new epoch on Thursday as Chairman Paul Achleitner leaves after a rocky decade during which Germany’s largest lender lost billions and saw its share price plummet.

If all goes to plan at Deutsche’s annual general meeting on Thursday, Alexander Wynaendts, a Dutch former insurance executive, will be voted in to succeed Achleitner.

Wynaendts, who is set for a four-year term as chairman, is a former head of Dutch insurer Aegon, which also had staff around the world and a large U.S. presence during a turbulent decade, experience that should serve him well at Deutsche.

Under Achleitner, Deutsche saw multiple top management changes, entered and exited merger talks with rival Commerzbank and also paid big fines for misconduct that regulators feared could topple the Frankfurt-based bank.

“I look back today on eventful years in what was a difficult phase for our bank,” Achleitner told shareholders.

“I am leaving Deutsche Bank with the deep conviction that we have all set the course for a successful future,” he said.

Deutsche has more recently entered calmer waters after an overhaul that trimmed its investment bank and cut costs by shedding thousands of staff. It has posted seven consecutive quarters of profit, its longest streak in the black since 2012.

But control problems continue to plague the bank, despite efforts to beef up safeguards, something Wynaendts plans to focus on strengthening further.

Introducing himself to shareholders, Wynaendts said the bank had seen “turbulent times but turned around” and would “maintain a strong focus on costs and controls”.

Andreas Thomae, a portfolio manager at Deka, which is a big Deutsche investor, is set to tell shareholders he hopes Wynaendts will steer the bank “through a somewhat calmer phase”.

But in a reminder of past problems, prosecutors and federal police last month searched Deutsche’s headquarters in a raid linked to suspicions of money laundering.

Deutsche said at the time that the search was related to suspicious transactions it had itself passed on to authorities and that it was cooperating fully.

(Reporting by Tom Sims; Editing by Alexander Smith and Edmund Blair)

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