Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackerman has handed over the reigns at Germany's biggest bank after a decade of both controversy and success. But tougher times lie ahead for his successors, he thinks.
Describing his demise from Deutsche Bank as "very special day" with a "touch of sadness," Josef Ackermann said that Germany's flagship bank was "even stronger and more stable than it already was."
"I'm pleased to hand over this bank in such outstanding shape to my successors," he told his last annual shareholder meeting in Frankfurt on Thursday.
Swiss-born Ackermann, 64, has been a controversial public figure, personifying to many Germans the arrogance and greed of the banking sector after he promised investors annual profits of 25 percent at the beginning of his career.
Although he fell short of reaching this goal, he told shareholders that Deutsche Bank had become a "globally competitive and highly profitable financial institution" which had proved its "extraordinary resilience," notably in the face of the current eurozone debt crisis.
"Unfortunately, the critics of my profit goal have never cared about this," he said, adding that the 25 percent return on investment was never "a goal in itself" but a means to make Deutsche Bank as profitable as "the best banks in the world."
However, Ackermann also had a cautious note for his successors, warning them to be "careful" about further developments in 2012.
"Especially the economic and debt situations in some eurozone countries, as well as a lack of willingness to carry out reforms there, are reasons to worry," he said, adding that high unemployment among young people was especially unsettling.
However, the bank stands accused of misleading investors about the quality of so-called subprime mortgages, which are said to have led to the collapse of the US-based Lehman Brothers bank, thus unleashing the financial crisis.
In addition, Deutsche Bank has been criticized for investing in firms producing cluster mines and for issuing financial products speculating on rising food prices, which were partly held responsible for the 2008 food crisis in developing countries.
Ackermann is officially succeeded Friday by Anshu Jain - a British citizen of Indian origin who headed the bank's investment unit in London - as well as Jürgen Fitschen, who is head of Deutsche Bank's German operations with close links to the corridors of power in Germany.
uhe/sgb (AFP, dpa, Reuters)