It is not so common for the leaders of large companies to admit, at the time of handing over, that they have been very wrong, for many years. Paul Achleitner, the chairman of the supervisory board of the first German bank, Deutsche Bank, thus delivered, Thursday, May 19, before the shareholders gathered in general assembly, to a singular mea culpa.
The banker could certainly not leave the institution ignoring the financial scandals, the abysmal losses, the restructuring at the cost of massive job cuts, which have punctuated his two terms of office over the past ten years. Long episodes of crisis due in part to the policy of unbridled expansion carried out under the era of the charismatic Swiss boss Josef Ackermann, who left in 2012, then to strategic errors since.
In what he calls“honest self-assessment”Mr. Achleitner says that upon his arrival in 2012, the bank “overrated” his condition. “The apparent strength with which Deutsche Bank emerged from the financial crisis [de 2008] »this “exaggeratedly good self-image”, has finally “obstructs needed change”. “Who would have thought, at the time, did he throwthat we would have to spend billions of euros over the years in legal costs, penalties and out-of-court payments” Where “that we will reduce Deutsche Bank’s balance sheet by nearly 1 trillion euros over the next ten years” ?
Deutsche Bank has indeed become during this decade the most worrying weak link in the banking sector. “Deutsche Bank is on a slide, the only question we are worried about is whether there is sand underneath”, summed up the boss of another European banking giant in the mid-2010s. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) even qualified in 2016 the German bank as the main risk factor of the global financial system.
“I will not deny that the path has not always been straightslipped Paul Achleitner, whom several investment funds and small holders have called to think about his succession. Some of the things that were supposed to be a solution actually made the problem worse. Mistakes were made, and yes, I made some, too. » But, ultimately, Deutsche Bank “has remained an independent institution and has the best chance of remaining so”.
This confession was facilitated by the very recent turnaround of the bank. In 2021, it posted its best results since 2011. “Would we have liked to make this progress sooner? Without a doubt “said the leader. “Am I satisfied with what I imagined ten years ago? No I’m not. » Neither do Deutsche Bank shareholders and employees.
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