Is Deutsche Bank really racist?
Deutsche Bank's careers website states it plainly: "Join us and you'll become part of a culture that nurtures talent, embraces diversity and rewards outstanding performance."
If this is the case, why won't it appoint Anshu Jain as its chief executive?
As Jain's Investor Worksho made clear last week, Deutsche's corporate and investment bank - for which Jain is currently responsible - has done very well in recent years, gaining share in most all market areas (with the notable exception of Asian investment grade DCM) so that it occupies a top three or five position in almost all the markets in which it operates.
Why, therefore, can't Jain be like Bob Diamond - Bob who also started out as chief executive of the investment bank and now manages the whole show over at Barclays?
People are positing something sounding very much like racism.
Today's New York Times cites Lutz Roehmeyer, a large Deutsche shareholder and portfolio manager at LBB Invest in Berlin as saying:
"In Germany, no one can imagine an Indian working in London who does not speak German being the CEO of Deutsche Bank."
Roehemeyer goes on to say that Jain deserves to run Deutsche, thereby giving him his support, but he's been pointing out for a while that Jain's nationality might be an issue.
At best, it seems Jain might be able to hope for some kind of power sharing agreement with a bona fide German. The Financial Times recently quoted Nomura analyst Jon Peace as saying that a dual CEO structure with Jain focused on internal management and Axel Weber (former president of the Bundesbank) would be best all round.
Would it? There are plenty of non-Germans on Deutsche's executive committee, but what kind of message does it send to non-German employees across Deutsche Bank if a high-performing and able individual can't be chief executive mostly for reasons of his nationality?
Or is Deutsche simply being pragmatic?
Barclays' appointment of an American investment banker as its CEO has inflamed public opinion and made it a lightening rod for criticism in the UK. Is Deutsche simply trying to mitigate the risk that making Jain CEO will make it a political target in Germany? If you have any comments, we'd like to hear them.