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Deutsche Bank picks ex-German foreign minister Gabriel for board

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Via Financial Times

Deutsche Bank has picked German political heavyweight Sigmar Gabriel to join its board, with the former foreign minister taking the place of another nominee who faced a likely veto by regulators.

Social Democratic party politician Mr Gabriel, 60, is well known in Germany after serving as the country’s foreign minister from 2017 to 2018, and prior to that as economic minister. He was also vice-chancellor from 2013 to 2018.

He will take the place of Jürg Zeltner, Deutsche Bank said in a statement on Friday. Mr Zeltner, a former top UBS executive, was nominated to the supervisory board in August, but faced a veto from regulators for conflict of interest reasons, the Financial Times has reported.

Mr Zeltner, 52, took over Qatari-backed European private banking group Quintet last year, which caused concerns with supervisors because it directly competes with Deutsche in wealth management.

Mr Gabriel will join the Frankfurt-based lender in the middle of its historic retreat from investment banking. Last year, chief executive Christian Sewing unveiled plans to cut 18,000 jobs, close its global equities trading division and create a €288bn “bad bank” in an attempt to revive its fortunes after shares plunged to a record low in 2019 following multiple years of scandals and losses.

“Deutsche Bank, as one of the most important financial institutions in Europe, has the opportunity and the responsibility to help shape the future of the German and European economy,” Mr Gabriel said in a statement. “I want to play a part in this.”

Paul Achleitner, 63, has led Deutsche’s supervisory board since 2012, but recently has lost the support of major investors such as US private equity firm Cerberus after a failed merger attempt with Commerzbank last year and acting too slowly to address problems at the struggling investment bank.

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The Qatari royal family, former JPMorgan Chase executive Doug Braunstein and asset manager BlackRock also have an increasingly negative view of Mr Achleitner’s performance, the Financial Times reported in November.

“With his wealth of experience, having served as Environment Minister, Economic Affairs Minister and Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel will make a unique contribution and complement the expertise of our Supervisory Board,“ Mr Achleitner said.

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