Josef Ackermann said he will step down as deputy chairman of Siemens AG’s supervisory board and dismissed the idea that he had any bearing on the suicide of the finance chief at Zurich Insurance Group AG.
The former Deutsche Bank AG chief executive last month gave up the chairmanship of Zurich Insurance, following his naming in the suicide note of CFO Pierre Wauthier. Ackermann’s resignation from the Siemens supervisory board was prompted by disagreements over the ousting of former CEO Peter Loescher and not connected to Zurich Insurance, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The decision about the post at Siemens was made “quite independently and for completely different reasons” than the one concerning Zurich Insurance, Ackermann told reporters in Berlin.
Siemens’s leadership is already in flux after Europe’s largest engineering company in July ousted Loescher, following a fifth profit forecast cut in his six years. He was replaced by finance chief Joe Kaeser. Siemens compliance head Peter Solmssen is likely to also leave the executive board before the end of his contract in March 2017, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported, without saying how it got the information.
While other German industrial champions have prospered during the European credit crisis thanks to their strength in export markets, Siemens has floundered.
Since Loescher, who was recruited by Chairman Gerhard Cromme, took over in July 2007, the shares have declined 15 percent through yesterday. Germany’s DAX index gained 6 percent in that period. Today, the stock dropped 1 percent as of 11:47 a.m. in Frankfurt trading, valuing Siemens at 77 billion euros ($102 billion).
Ackermann didn’t inform Siemens’s board or senior management before quitting his post at Zurich Insurance, a person with knowledge of the matter said last month.
As CEO of Deutsche Bank, Ackermann helped transform a German-focused institution into Europe’s largest investment bank, steering the company through the global financial turmoil of 2008 and ensuing euro-region fiscal crisis. In May 2012, he ended his 10-year career at the helm of the Frankfurt-based lender.
While carrying out tasks at the Swiss insurer had become impossible, Ackermann said he will remain in other posts. He is a board member of oil producer Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Investor AB, the publicly traded company of Sweden’s billionaire Wallenberg family.
Wauthier, found dead on Aug. 26 at his home near Zug, Switzerland, mentioned Ackermann in a suicide note. The 65-year- old Swiss native quit as Zurich Insurance chairman three days later and called the allegations “unfounded.”
The CFO’s suicide sparked fresh doubts about Zurich Insurance’s financial health after it missed analysts’ profit estimates in three of the past four quarters and announced a surprise write-off in October. That prompted CEO Martin Senn to tell analysts on a conference call on Aug. 30 that there’s no link between Wauthier’s death and the company’s business.
Zurich Insurance has said it’s looking into whether undue pressure was placed on the CFO. The Swiss company yesterday confirmed that Tom de Swaan, who had become chairman on an interim basis after Ackermann’s departure, would assume the role permanently.
With assistance from Nicholas Comfort in Frankfurt. Editors: Simon Thiel, James Kraus