UBS’s foreign chair ticks more boxes than Deutsche’s

The Swiss national flag flies under the logo of the Swiss bank UBS in Zurich, Switzerland, April 24, 2017.

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LONDON, Nov. 21 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Globalization is alive and well on the boards of European investment banks. UBS (UBSG.S) and Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) on Saturday and Friday appointed an Irishman and a Dutchman respectively as new chairmen. The Swiss bank’s choice, former Morgan Stanley (MS.N) chairman Colm Kelleher, ticks more boxes than the German lender’s choice of Alexander Wynaendts, former boss of insurer Aegon (AEGN.AS).

Kelleher has the right CV for the world’s greatest wealth manager. He played a central role in the firm’s strategic shift from Wall Street to enterprise after the 2008 financial crisis. His last role was to get private bankers and negotiators to work together, a central task for UBS. Doing better could narrow the $ 60 billion valuation gap between the bank and Morgan Stanley, which is valued at 2.4 times its tangible book value over time, more than double the multiple of UBS.

The appointment breaks an unspoken rule that one of the two most important jobs at UBS should go to a Swiss national: Kelleher will work alongside Dutch CEO Ralph Hamers. But Vice-President Lukas Gaehwiler is well known in Zurich. Either way, UBS made almost twice as much revenue last year in the Americas as it did in its country.

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Wynaendts is a less obvious choice for Deutsche. The Dutchman’s last banking post ended in 1997. Admittedly, he has been on the board of Citigroup (CN) since 2019 and insurers are major counterparties for rate traders, one of the most important activities in the world. German group. Deutsche’s retail bankers will also be excited to learn that a key strategic impetus at Aegon has been to upgrade IT systems to better use customer data.

Even so, Wynaendts will be a newcomer to the German clubby financial institution. Deutsche’s domestic market is also larger, generating nearly twice as much revenue last year as the Americas. One of the key questions Deutsche faces is whether to relaunch a merger with state-backed Commerzbank. The country’s next chancellor, Olaf Scholz, was heavily involved in the latest attempt. Deutsche CEO Christian Sewing and Vice President Norbert Winkeljohann will have to do the heavy lifting on government relations.

Wynaendts was selected in part because of his experience in mergers and acquisitions at Aegon, which bought and sold companies during his tenure. He will face a steep learning curve in Frankfurt.

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NEWS CONTEXT

– On November 19, Deutsche Bank’s board appointed former Aegon CEO Alexander Wynaendts as its next chairman, replacing Paul Achleitner.

– The Dutch national is currently a director at Citigroup, Uber Technologies and Air France-KLM. He will step down from Citigroup’s board and join Deutsche if elected at the bank’s annual general meeting on May 19, 2022.

– UBS appointed Colm Kelleher as the next chairman on November 20 to replace Axel Weber. The Irishman retired as chairman of Morgan Stanley in June 2019, where he oversaw investment banking and wealth management.

– The shareholders of the Swiss lender will vote on the appointment of Kelleher on April 6, 2022.

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Editing by Peter Thal Larsen and Karen Kwok

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