Exclusive Exclusive: Hermes Warns Deutsche Bank’s Supervisory Board Dispute Damaging Confidence

The unusually public dispute within Deutsche Bank’s supervisory board is damaging investor confidence and is likely to overshadow the shareholders’ meeting on May 19. Hans-Christoph Hirt, co-chief of Hermes EOS, the British asset management company and a Deutsche Bank shareholder, fears the conflict may weaken the bank further at a difficult time. “The open differences expressed by different members of the supervisory board are highly unusual and investors see them as damaging the bank. They potentially also contravene confidentiality agreements,“ he said to Handelsblatt. “The supervisory board will have to explain itself, at the latest at the shareholders meeting,” he said. Mr. Hirt is known for his critical comments at German shareholders meetings. Hermes EOS represents shareholders whose assets amount to 155 billion pounds. Pirc, a British firm which provides shareholders with voting guidelines, has already recommended that Deutsche Bank investors refuse to formally approve the work of the supervisory board and Paul Achleitner, its head. The dispute arose following public criticism by some members of the non-executive supervisory board of their fellow board member Georg Thoma, who has been aggressively investigating Mr. Achleitner. Mr. Thoma is one of Germany’s best known business lawyers and heads the bank’s integrity committee which is working through the series of scandals affecting the bank and attempting to bring about a change in its culture. Mr. Thoma’s opponents accuse him of taking his investigations too far and damaging the bank. But major investors such as Union Investment have warned that the supervisory board’s criticism of Mr. Thoma is undermining the credibility of the board itself. Read the full story in Friday’s Handelsblatt Global Edition at 12:00 CET Picture source: DPA