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Business

Politicians Call for Deutsche Bank Boycott

Deutsche Bank customers should close their accounts, German politicians have demanded after the financial institute said it would slash 6,400 jobs internationally on the heels of an 87 percent increase in profits.

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Currently unpopular in Germany: CEO Ackermann

Green party co-chair Reinhard Bütikofer joined the chorus of politicians denouncing Deutsche Bank's plan to lay-off thousands in Germany and abroad with a personal attack on CEO Josef Ackermann on Wednesday.

"I see an irresponsible Deutsche Bank boss who behaves as if he could just make demands of society and politicians, as if he didn't have to be a good citizen too," Bütikofer said on German public broadcaster ARD.

Hesse state Social Democratic party (SPD) head Andrea Ypsilanti on Tuesday called on Deutsche Bank customers to boycott the financial institute.

"Every Deutsche Bank customer can assess whether he doesn't do more for jobs in Germany if he switches to a state-owned savings bank or cooperative bank," Ypsilanti said.

"Influenced by Carnival"

Rolf Breuer

Rolf-Ernst Breuer

Deutsche Bank supervisory board head Rolf-Ernst Breuer (photo) defended Swiss CEO Ackermann's decision to slash jobs, attributing the politicians' calls for customers to leave the bank to "Carnival," which ended Wednesday. Company managers routinely faced criticism in Germany, Breuer said.

"That's part of the business," he said. "That's how the supervisory board sees it too. We fully support what Mr. Ackermann does." German reactions to the bank's decisions were sometimes "downright esoteric," he added.

Last week, Ackermann announced that net profits had increased by 87 percent, to €2.55 billion ($3.26 billion) in 2004. Ackermann said the bank still aimed to achieve an additional 25 percent growth in returns. A day later, he said 6,400 jobs would be cut, while around 1,200 new positions would be created, mainly in countries where incomes are low. Around 2,300 of the lay-offs will hit employees in Germany.

Bundesbank Director Edgar Meister defended the plans to cut jobs on Wednesday and called for the discussion to be quickly brought to a close.

"It shouldn't be frowned upon if individual banks aim for profits that allow them to again join the international league," Financial Times Deutschland quoted him as saying.

Risk to more jobs?

Ypsilanti's boycott call has received backing from top SPD politician Andrea Nahles and the leader of the SPD's youth organization, Björn Böhning.

Deutsche Bank Zentrale mit Friedrich Schiller

Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt

But other SPD and Green party leaders rejected the idea. The head of parliament's financial committee, Christiane Scheel, said a boycott would only hurt the bank's employees. The Green party politician said though that the job cuts were "immoral." SPD economics expert Rainer Wend said the call to boycott was "more of an expression of helplessness than a sensible political action."

The Christian Democratic party in Hesse said Ypsilanti's demand was "intellectually thin and economically disastrous."

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