The boss of German utility RWE has ousted his main rival and potential successor in a boardroom showdown.
Handelsblatt has learned that chief executive Peter Terium has forced out Arndt Neuhaus, the head of the utility’s German business division.
The company is splitting into two, with one part focusing on renewable energy and the other on conventional fossil fuels. Germany’s second-largest utility has struggled with the country’s forced move to renewable energy.
Handelsblatt sources say Mr. Neuhaus threatened to quit unless he was given charge of the renewables spin off, but Mr. Terium will take charge of both divisions for now. Mr. Neuhaus has resigned.
RWE is partly owned by German municipalities, which are fearful of the radical restructuring. Many wanted Mr. Neuhaus to succeed Mr. Terium.
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German prosecutors have information that apparently implicates 129 big European and global financial firms in dividend-stripping, a financial maneuver used by investors to avoid tax payments. Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, Barclays, Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas are reportedly part of probe.
Investigators want to know if the banks helped customers lower capital gains taxes by manipulating shareholdings around the time dividends are paid. Insiders say the practice – which is legal in the U.S. and Britain -- cost the German government €700 million in lost taxes.
A whistleblower at one bank set the probe in motion last year, giving a USB stick with account information to investigators in northwest Germany. Deutsche Bank told Handelsblatt it did not engage in organized dividend stripping, but that some individual clients may have. Most other banks declined to comment.
To read more on the shady tax deals, click here.
Germany’s national soccer organization systematically covered up a €6.7 million bribe that helped the country win the 2006 World Cup, according to an internal investigation. Freshfields, a law firm hired by the DFB German soccer association said it found evidence of payments to soccer officials in Africa to buy their votes in FIFA elections. The payments may have helped Germany win the 2006 games, and helped South Africa host the event four years later. A handful of German media outlets said they obtained an advance copy of the Freshfields report, which has not been made public.