22 May 2015
Deutsche Bank’s executives have faced widespread criticism from shareholders at the bank’s AGM.
The meeting, which took place on 21 May in Frankfurt, saw opposition to Deutsche Bank’s executives on a large scale, with 39% of its shareholders voting against the bank’s management.
The German corporate code gives shareholders a vote to respond to the actions of executives over the past year. A vote to discharge the executives is seen as supportive, however a vote against discharge allows shareholders to express their displeasure.
Although the vote was 61% in favour of Deutsche’s management, the large amount of opposition is indicative of the irritation that shareholders have recently felt. The bank’s previous AGM saw 81% vote in support of the executives.
Deutsche faced criticism in the run up to its AGM, with many shareholder’s expressing their anger with the bank’s management. This follows several difficulties the bank has been experiencing lately, including a $2.5billion pay-out made last month to authorities in the UK and US in response to allegations that Deutsche had manipulated the Libor benchmark rate.
Hermes Equity Ownership Services, which owns a stake of nearly 5%, publicly criticised the bank before the meeting. Hermes’ Director, Dr Hans-Christoph Hurt announced the day before the AGM that: ‘Hermes EOS, on behalf of the institutional investors it represents, will vote against the so-called discharge of the members of Deutsche Bank’s management board. With this vote we formally express our strong concerns about a range of issues and our lack of confidence in the management board.’
Deutsche also came under fire from shareholder adviser ISS, which advised investors not to back the bank’s executives at the AGM.
In an attempt to appease its shareholders, Deutsche announced that it would be reshuffling its management the night before the AGM, a move which Hermes dismissed as insufficient.
Deutsche’s response to the AGM vote was apologetic. Co-chief executive Anshu Jain acknowledged that the bank had experienced several legal issues, and that cost-cutting efforts had not been as successful as hoped. He announced that ‘This will be a top priority in the coming years.’