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Business

Frankfurt Banking on Deutsche Staying

Plans to restructure the management of Germany’s biggest bank along Anglo-American lines has lead to fears that Frankfurt may lose its most powerful player to London.

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If you live in a glass house, don’t throw stones

Deutsche Bank is a household name in Germany. The brand stands for trustworthy, conservative values, headed by a consensus-driven management board.

That is set to change as the traditional German lender looks to adopt a more corporate face.

The bank’s chairman, Rolf Breuer, has plans to restructure management at Deutsche, in a move to reshape its business as a global financial powerhouse.

Breuer’s plans, set to be unveiled on Thursday but leaked to the German press, have made waves already.

Thomas Fischer, the chief operating officer, is understood to be negotiating his departure after a board room battle. Fischer is a vociferous opponent of the "Americanisation" of the bank’s management structures.

Fischer argued against Breuer’s plans to give presidential-style powers to the bank’s executive committee and in favour of the traditional management board. But, it seems he has lost that battle and is expected to leave on Thursday.

With Fischer, the last opponent of plans to move operations to London goes too. A commentary in the daily broad sheet Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung sounds the alarm for Frankfurt as a business location.

It is likely, the Frankfurter Allgemeine says, that Deutsche Bank would move its headquarters to London in the wake of the move.

The news has sent shock waves through Frankfurt's financial community. If Deutsche Bank goes, will more follow?

The prospects are dire. If the important decisions are made elsewhere, the location will hardly serve as a signpost of financial excellence any more. Because when the banks go, the brains will leave as well.