Bloomberg News

Zurich Says Board Will Propose Ackermann as Chairman

March 13, 2012

Zurich Financial Services AG (ZURN), Switzerland’s biggest insurer, said its board of directors will propose Josef Ackermann as chairman when he steps down as chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank AG. (DBK)

The board is proposing Ackermann, currently vice chairman, for the job after the company’s March 29 annual shareholder meeting, Zurich Financial said today in a statement on its website. Tom de Swaan will be proposed as vice chairman of the board, according to the statement.

Ackermann, 64, is stepping down as CEO of Deutsche Bank at the end of May after a decade in which he transformed the firm into an international investment bank. Taking on the role at Zurich Financial comes after he dropped plans to head the supervisory board of Germany’s biggest bank in November after his efforts to help policy makers solve Europe’s debt crisis didn’t give him the time needed to win shareholder support.

“Ackermann is Swiss and well connected in the financial world, so it’s a good solution,” said Roland Pfaender, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Commerzbank AG (CBK), who recommends investors hold Zurich Financial stock. “It’s been speculated for some time that he’ll take over, so it’s not a big surprise.”

Zurich Financial’s vice chairman will manage the transition period following the retirement of chairman Manfred Gentz, according to the statement.

Swiss newspaper Finanz und Wirtschaft, citing unidentified people in the Swiss insurance industry, reported Nov. 19 that Ackermann might become chairman of Zurich Financial.

Contract Extension

The Swiss company said last month it would suggest Ackermann’s contract be extended beyond 2012 and that the board would communicate its planned structure as well as the name of the proposed chairman before the shareholder meeting.

Ackermann has said that he could accept a future role at a company other than Deutsche Bank while remaining in his current post through May.

Deutsche Bank said in November that it will instead nominate Paul Achleitner, the finance chief of Munich-based insurer Allianz SE (ALV), as supervisory board chairman. Ackermann will be succeeded as CEO by management board member Juergen Fitschen and investment bank chief Anshu Jain, who will share the role.

Zurich Financial said last month that it will keep the dividend unchanged after increasing the 2010 payout to an 11- year high of 17 Swiss francs ($18.45) per share. The company said Feb. 15 that it will suggest changing its name to Zurich Insurance Group Ltd. at the shareholder meeting this month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicholas Comfort in Frankfurt at ncomfort1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net


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