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Deutsche Bank board member Alexander Schütz disposes of stake in German lender

Deutsche Bank supervisory board member Alexander Schütz has disposed of his shares in Germany’s biggest bank, ending an investment that was first held by Chinese conglomerate HNA.

Once one of Deutsche’s 15 largest investors with a 0.84 per cent stake, Mr Schütz ceased being a shareholder last month, a spokesperson for the Austrian financier told the Financial Times.

Mr Schütz joined Deutsche’s supervisory board in 2017 after HNA, a once- aggressive acquirer that eventually fell foul of the Chinese government, amassed a stake of almost 10 per cent in the bank.

HNA’s stake, funded using a complex financing structure, was held by Mr Schütz’s Vienna-based investment vehicle C-Quadrat and a chain of offshore holding companies. 

HNA’s stake had been shrinking since 2018 as the complex financing unwound over time. In 2018, the group quietly restructured the financing, and the following year sold its remaining position to Mr Schütz. The last tranche matured in December 2020, according to his spokesperson.

The news of Mr Schütz’s exit from Deutsche’s shareholder register comes a week after he drew stinging criticism from the bank for urging former Wirecard chief executive Markus Braun to “do [the Financial Times] in” over the newspaper’s critical coverage of the German payments company.

In an email, which was disclosed by the parliamentary inquiry commission into the Wirecard scandal, Mr Schütz in early 2019 called on Wirecard’s boss to show “more dedication” in rebutting the FT’s reporting on the group.

Following the revelation, Deutsche Bank said “the content and the attitude of the quoted statement are unacceptable”. Mr Schütz apologised for his comments.

Mr Schütz is a longtime friend and business associate of Christian Angermayer, the German financier who played a key role in helping HNA amass its stake in Deutsche Bank. 

Since HNA first disclosed its stake in early 2017, Deutsche Bank shares have tumbled more 40 per cent as the bank grapples with negative interest rates, hefty litigation costs and concern over the viability of its investment bank.

While the lender’s share price surged more than 80 per cent over the past 10 months, Mr Schütz nonetheless made a loss on his stake, a person familiar with the details of the investment told the FT. 

Austrian newspaper Kurier first reported that Mr Schütz is no longer a shareholder. The financier’s term as a supervisory board member runs until 2023 and is not tied to the stake he held.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment. 

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