Report for the supervisory board exonerates the CEO

Matthew Schellenberg

A report commissioned by the supervisory board refutes allegations against the Apobank boss. But the bank’s problems remain.

(Photo: Apobank)

Frankfurt In the dispute over a possible conflict of interest at the Apotheker- und Ärztebank (Apobank), a report relieves CEO Matthias Schellenberg. According to Handelsblatt information, the report by a law firm commissioned by the supervisory board states, among other things: “According to the current factual and legal status, from our point of view there is no apparent conflict of interest here.”

Apobank draws “the clear result” from the examination that there are no indications of a conflict of interest. First, the “Börsen-Zeitung” reported on the report.

The reason for the examination are allegations by the previous head of risk, Eckhard Lüdering, whose contract, which expires at the end of the year, will not be extended. It is about the role of the consulting firm BCG, which has been commissioned by Apobank for around three years.

According to the “Börsen-Zeitung”, there is an allegation that BCG brought Schellenberg into play for the board position without a personnel consultancy being involved. Schellenberg started at Apobank in March of this year, succeeding Ulrich Sommer. Second, the dispute revolves around the question of whether BCG received an order without first bidding for parts projects.

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The report now states that the bank’s usual internal process had been circumvented “according to the information available to us”. Even when awarding the contract to BCG, no conflict of interest can be derived.

“From our point of view, according to the current factual and legal status, there is no apparent conflict of interest here.” Excerpt from the report of a law firm for the supervisory board of Apobank

BCG is not the only consulting firm that Apobank has brought on board. But she is one of the big players in the industry. The BCG mandate expires at the end of the year. It is obvious that it will not be extended.

Head of private customers left the bank abruptly

It is unclear whether the report will bring peace to Apobank. Because there was Zoff at the bank not only because of Lüdering’s allegations. Last week it became known that private customer boss Jenny Friese left the bank abruptly.

Friese has only been a member of the Apobank board since the beginning of 2021. The former Commerzbank manager has been in charge of private customer business since May last year.

The sudden departure points to upheavals within the governing body. Insiders cite differences of opinion between Schellenberg and her about the direction of Apobank as the reason for Friese’s sudden departure.

According to financial circles, Schellenberg’s management style has also caused some criticism. Nevertheless, he now takes over Friese’s department. Schellenberg intends to present a strategy update for Apobank later this year, which should also include savings.

The manager was most recently at the private bank Merck Finck, where he was CEO from 2017 to 2020. He was a partner at the Warburg Bank in Hamburg for a short time and left after a few months.

The Apobank has been struggling with problems for a long time: their costs are comparatively high. The institute was recently unable to leverage the opportunities inherent in the business model – especially with regard to asset management. Your customers are considered to be much more attractive than those of an average savings bank or cooperative bank.

Apobank had to take a lot of criticism because of the troubled start of its IT conversion almost two years ago. The switch to the new IT service provider Avaloq from Pentecost 2020 initially failed in parts. In the course of the migration, among other things, transfers and other simple banking services did not run smoothly.

Customers reacted angrily, some turned their backs on Apobank. In 2021, the number of members, i.e. the owners of the bank, fell slightly to a good 115,000 – the first decline in ten years. It continued in the first half of 2022.

More: Cooperative banks are planning billion-dollar mergers.

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