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Who is Deutsche Bank's new 'outsider' British boss?

John Cryan Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Cambridge-educated John Cryan is a life-long banker considered to be a "safe pair of hands"

It may seem odd that Deutsche Bank has two chief executives. It is certainly unusual for both of them to resign at the same time.

But perhaps the most unusual thing is that a British man will take the helm of this troubled German giant.

John Cryan will become co-chief executive of Deutsche Bank from 1 July, then lone head honcho from May next year.

So who is he? And can he restore shareholder confidence in this fine-hit €38bn (£28bn; $42bn) behemoth?

Mr Cryan, a 54-year-old Sunderland-born Cambridge graduate, is a lifelong banker, whose most notable recent role was chief financial officer for Swiss bank UBS from 2008 to 2011.

He is credited with successfully overseeing UBS's restructuring through the turbulent early years of the financial crisis and for helping to engender a change of culture away from "get-rich-quick" casino banking to one where being risk-averse is seen as a virtue, not a failing.

"Boring is the new black," says John Purcell, head of international headhunting firm Purcell & Co. "And John Cryan is perfect for what Deutsche Bank needs right now.

"They didn't want someone totally new - they wanted someone who knew the bank well, with a reputation for delivering."

Track record

Amongst banking analysts, this German-speaking Brit seems to have a reputation for being cautious, pragmatic and a safe pair of hands.

In a note to investors, Citigroup's banking analyst Kinner Lakhani said Mr Cryan "has a strong track record in the turnaround of UBS" and that "investors will welcome this significant change in Deutsche Bank's leadership".

Shareholders certainly seemed to welcome the resignations of Juergen Fitschen and Anshu Jain, judging by the spike in the share price.

But was that more an expression of relief that the bosses who presided over a period of huge regulatory fines and falling profits at the bank are going, rather than a vote of confidence in the new man?

Hermes Equity Ownership Services, which holds a stake of almost 5% in Deutsche Bank, was the ringleader of more than 40 institutional investors calling for change at the top.

Its director, Dr Hans-Christoph Hirt, welcomed the resignations and added: "We also welcome the appointment of John Cryan," praising his "extensive experience as a banker".

No honeymoon

But there was a clear warning behind the endorsement of this "Deutsche Bank outsider", as Mr Hirt put it.

As a non-executive director on the bank's supervisory board since 2013, where he was chair of the audit committee and member of the risk committee, Mr Cryan was "directly involved in the strategy development process and the approval of Strategy 2020" - the bank's controversial development plan that was considered worryingly light on detail when it was released earlier this year.

In other words, Mr Cryan is not a clean pair of hands untainted by the previous regime. Quite the opposite, in Mr Hirt's eyes.

So while Paul Achleitner, chairman of Deutsche Bank's supervisory board, says that "we are convinced that he is the right person at the right time", it is clear that Mr Cryan cannot expect an easy ride, or even any kind of honeymoon period.

Shareholders are impatient for change at a bank that recently reported a halving of quarterly net income to €559m (£407m), compared with the same period a year earlier.

And the reputational damage caused by the $2.5bn (£1.7bn) settlement in connection with the bank's part in the Libor rate rigging scandal will take some time to repair.

John Cryan has his work cut out.

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