Deutsche Bank will probably hold its annual general meeting again virtually

Deutsche Bank Towers

Instead of in the festival hall, the money house should again greet its shareholders alone on the screen in 2023.

(Photo: imago images/Future Image)

Frankfurt Deutsche Bank will probably not hold a general meeting in person next year either. The Handelsblatt learned from financial circles that there is a clear preference for a virtual shareholder meeting. In all probability, the meeting will not be chaired by the head of the supervisory board, Alexander Wynaendts, but by his deputy, Norbert Winkeljohann. A spokesman for Deutsche Bank said no decision had been made on either issue.

If the chairman of the supervisory board, Wynaendts, who has headed Deutsche Bank’s supervisory body since last May, actually refrains from chairing the meeting, this would be an unusual step for a general meeting in Germany. The institute had already set the course at the last shareholders’ meeting to make such a step possible.

At that time, the shareholders had approved an amendment to the articles of incorporation that allowed the bank to make the question of who chairs the general meeting “more flexible”. In the future, the chairman “or another” member of the Supervisory Board elected by a majority of the shareholders should be allowed to chair the meeting.

Wynaendts’ Vice Norbert Winkeljohann is the obvious replacement. Under Wynaendts’ predecessor Paul Achleitner, he had already been designated as a replacement candidate for this task – in the event that Achleitner had dropped out.

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A decision against an on-site general meeting is likely to disappoint many investors. “Even though Deutsche Bank’s virtual general meeting was exemplary, I am a clear fan of face-to-face events,” said Klaus Nieding, Vice President of the German Association for the Protection of Securities (DSW). The fund company Union Investment had repeatedly spoken out in favor of physical shareholder meetings in the past.

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A move by the shareholder advisor ISS shows how controversial the practice of holding general meetings virtually in the future is. So far, the influential voting rights advisor has advised investors to reject planned changes to the articles of association that will also allow purely online general meetings in the next few years. Until the end of August, it is still possible for stock corporations to convene purely virtual general meetings without the consent of the shareholders. After that, an amendment to the articles of incorporation is necessary.

Deutsche Bank: Discussion about extending Karl von Rohr’s contract

For the chairman of the supervisory board, Wynaendts, the design of the next general meeting is not the only test. In the next few months, the Dutchman will also have to decide on a contract extension for Karl von Rohr, board member for private customers, who is also deputy chairman of the board alongside CFO James von Moltke. It is far from agreed that Wynaendts will extend Rohrs’ contract, which expires in the autumn.

The Handelsblatt learned from financial circles that a critical discussion about this personnel matter had begun on the supervisory board. Elsewhere it was said that Wynaendts was critical of Karl von Rohr because of his role as head of the supervisory board of Deutsche Bank subsidiary DWS. First, “Manager Magazin” reported that von Rohr’s contract might not be extended. Deutsche Bank did not comment.

Rohr is accused of poor crisis management in dealing with the greenwashing allegations against DWS. The fact that there was a raid on DWS and Deutsche Bank at the end of May because of the allegations caused great resentment within the institute.

Von Rohr only announced the departure of DWS boss Asoka Wöhrmann one day after the raid – and therefore too late from the point of view of many investors. Von Rohr, on the other hand, defended his actions in an interview with the Handelsblatt in September. He pointed out that there were also investors “who found the way we handled it right”.

More: Alexander Wynaendts – This is how the head of the supervisory board of Deutsche Bank ticks

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