Deutsche Boss Down, But Not Out

So, that German federal court ruled that Deutsche boss Josef Ackermann and others must stand trial again over that Mannesmann bonus case. The Germans might want to make it absolutely clear that they have created a hostile business climate over there, but that's no reason for Ackermann to turn his thoughts to resignation.

Ackermann was on the Mannesmann advisory board, which approved the payment of $67m in bonuses to departing executives of the company following the 2000 takeover of the company by Vodafone. The shareholders were happy. The Mannesmann directors had worked hard and built up the value of their company. Ackermann and his fellow board members gained nothing from approving the transactions. But, hey, they are in the firing line for 'breach of trust' - essentially not working in the best interest of shareholders. Many think that Ackermann's biggest crime is that he is Swiss, and that the Germans don't like a foreigner running one of their biggest companies.

Anyway, all this talk of Ackermann falling on his sword is nonsense. He should remain at the Deutsche helm, and tough it out. And he's doing a great job over there. But that doesn't stop the gossip circulating about who is likely to take over from Ackermann when he does go.

Deutsche, it seems, would prefer an insider for the succession. In the frame (just) is Michael Cohrs, the joint head of investment banking. Finance director Clemens Borsig has also been mentioned. Another longshot, especially if Ackermann stays around awhile, is Hugo Banzinger, Deutsche's head of risk. More likely, however, is 41 year-old Rainer Neske, the head of Deutsche's retail banking unit. Now that would make the investment bankers a little uneasy. And what of Anju Jain, the man responsible for the bank's global markets business (the most profitable piece in the jigsaw) ? Jain's name doesn't appear to be that high on the list.

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