Deutsche Bank AG is reaching out to external candidates in its search for a successor to Chairman Paul Achleitner, after indications from several top internal candidates that they may not pursue the position.
The nomination committee has been contacting people on a list compiled with help from headhunter Egon Zehnder International, people familiar with the matter said. The list includes names outside Germany, although candidates are expected to be able to speak the local language, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing the private information.
“The process, led by Mayree Clark, is well under way, private and inclusive,” a Deutsche Bank spokesman said by email. “We will communicate the outcome once this is appropriate.” A spokesman for Egon Zehnder declined to comment.
The international search comes after two existing Deutsche Bank supervisory board members — Deutsche Boerse AG Chief Executive Officer Theodor Weimer and Bayer AG Supervisory Board Chairman Norbert Winkeljohann — indicated that they may not be available for the role. Achleitner has privately touted the two
as potential replacements, Bloomberg News has reported.
A delay in nominating a new chairman could create challenges for Deutsche Bank, which is under pressure from its top regulator, the ECB, to ensure a timely succession. The German lender would like to agree on a candidate by end of November, the people said. A formal nomination may not be announced until the spring, when the lender sends shareholders an invitation to its annual meeting.
Previous comments by Weimer and Winkeljohann have raised questions about their availability. Weimer has said that he plans to serve out his contract at the stock exchange, which runs until the end of 2024.
, and he’s ruled out holding both roles simultaneously. Winkeljohann has suggested that his existing mandates might make it difficult for him to take on another top role.
A third Deutsche Bank supervisory board member previously mentioned by Achleitner in private — former Volkswagen AG finance chief Frank Witter — doesn’t have any experience in investment banking. The division is the lender’s biggest revenue contributor.
Achleitner’s term ends in May, just months before the end of a four-year turnaround plan under Chief Executive Officer Christian Sewing. Sewing, who eliminated thousands of jobs and refocused Germany’s largest bank on corporate lending and fixed income trading, has already indicated that takeovers may play an important role in his next strategic plan.
Achleitner took the role nine years ago and has overseen a 56% decline in the share price under a succession of CEOs. He came under severe criticism from shareholders several years ago, when doubts about the lender’s course peaked, but a recovery over the past two years has eased pressure.