Berlin: The appointment of Indian-born investment banker Anshu Jain as head of Deutsche Bank, the nation`s biggest bank, has come under criticism in Germany on the ground that he is not able to speak German fluently.
Jaipur-born Jain, 47, was named sole head of investment banking at Deutsche Bank, the Frankfurt institution said earlier this week. Jain, who has spent his career in the United States and London, previously shared the investment post.
The move triggered speculation that he was poised to succeed Josef Ackermann, 62, as chief executive. Deutsche Bank denied any such significance behind the move. Ackermann`s contract runs until 2013.
Dieter Hein of Fairesearch, an analysis firm, said Jain had become Deutsche Bank`s most powerful executive after Ackerman, running a division that was the conglomerate`s "cash cow", making 80 percent of the bank`s pre-tax 2009 profit of 5.2 billion euros ($6.4 billion).
Jain joined Deutsche Bank in London in 1995, took over the global markets division in 2000, and joined the bank`s board in April 2009. So far Deutsche has always been run from Frankfurt.
Ackermann, who is a German-speaking Swiss national, often meets with Chancellor Angela Merkel and is a key liaison person between the Frankfurt banking industry and the government. Berlin is seeking to rein in the industry with regulation after bailing out several major banks.
"I don`t think the Germans would see it as in their interest to have an English-speaking investment banker from London running Deutsche Bank," said Hein.
"Getting the top job at Deutsche Bank is not just a matter of banking skills. It`s also politically significant," said Thomas Hartmann-Wendels, a Cologne expert on banking.
German reporters in Frankfurt this week could not recall hearing Jain speak German. Some accounts say he speaks it fluently, but the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau concluded Wednesday that the various assessments of his German doing the rounds were contradictory.
Analyst Hein said one solution, if Jain were headed for the top, might be for Deutsche to be run jointly by two executives, as it has twice in the past, from 1967 to 1969 and from 1976 to 1988, with a German sharing responsibility.