No stranger to turmoil, Dutch dealmaker Wynaendts set for Deutsche chair

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) – As head of Dutch insurer Aegon (NYSE:AEG), Alexander Wynaendts led a complex European financial institution with staff around the world and a large U.S. presence during a turbulent decade, experience that should serve him well as the next chair of Germany’s Deutsche Bank (DE:DBKGn).

On Friday, a committee of the bank’s supervisory board nominated Wynaendts to oversee the nation’s largest lender from next year. The board is expected to debate his role this weekend with shareholders voting on his appointment in May.

If elected, the position will catapult Wynaendts, who is relatively unknown in Germany, into a role as one of the country’s top bankers at a time when Deutsche is also steadying itself after a rocky decade with a view to a possible future merger.

“It is my strong belief that Deutsche Bank is well placed to address the growing needs of its global client base,” Wynaendts said. “I am committed to support the leadership team and all employees in continuing with the successful execution of its strategy.”

Just months into his tenure at Aegon, a company that in the mid 19th century helped the Dutch pay for funerals, Wynaendts, 61, navigated a state bailout and restructuring as the 2008 financial crisis took its toll.

Deutsche has lost billions of euros and faced huge fines, leaving regulators fearing it was on the brink of collapse five years ago. Although it has starting reaping small profits under new leadership, there remains plenty of unfinished business.

The bank is currently working on a new strategy plan to be presented in March and has yet to make good on a promise to shed 18,000 jobs, while analysts say it is at risk of missing a key profitability target next year.

A major question for the wider industry is the consolidation of Europe’s fragmented banks. Deutsche executives says they are working to make the lender strong for a potential future tie-up after it called off talks to merge with rival Commerzbank (DE:CBKG) in 2019.

Wynaendts – who oversaw a steady stream of acquisitions, disposals and partnerships from Canada to Mexico and Romania to China during a decade as the head of Aegon – is expected to embrace the strategy.

Aegon was involved in 87 M&A deals from 2012 through 2020, according to Refinitiv data.

He will also be well aware of the challenges of low interest rates and volatile markets after a hit to Aegon’s capital position saw its shares fall in 2018 and 2019, towards the end of Wynaendt’s tenure last year.

Wynaendts would take over from Austrian Paul Achleitner, another former insurance executive who previously worked at Allianz (DE:ALVG), when he steps down in May. Achleitner is credited with installing current CEO Christian Sewing to help turn the bank around after a number of management reshuffles during his decade at the helm.

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