The sudden resignation of Josef Ackermann as chairman of Zurich Insurance Group AG a few days after the insurer's chief financial officer was found dead in his home, where he is believed to have committed suicide, lowered the company's share price and raised many questions among shareholders. writes Bloomberg.
The share price of the Swiss insurer fell by 2.5% yesterday, increasing its decline over the past three days to 6%, which erased 2.2 billion Swiss francs ($ 2.36 billion) from the company's market capitalization since August 26, when the main its chief financial officer, Pierre Votier, was found dead in his home.
Ackermann, a former CEO of Deutsche Bank AG, said he was stepping down after members of Votier's family accused him of being responsible for his death. Sixty-five-year-old Ackerman did not describe the allegations, which he called unfounded. "Shareholders don't like the ambiguity that has arisen," said Ben Cohen, an analyst at Cannaccord Genuity in London. "The market has shown its concern.
It's not good for the company to lose both its chief financial officer and its chairman. ” The Swiss-born Ackermann became one of Europe's most prominent financiers during a decade at the helm of Deutsche Bank, making it one of the leading investment banks. He became chairman of Zurich Insurance last year after leaving Deutsche Bank.
Ackermann wanted to make changes in the insurer, which, according to him, lagged behind its competitors in some areas, writes the Swiss newspaper 20 Minuten. The chairman put pressure on the company's management. Colleagues and friends of Votier told Bloomberg News that his suicide was surprising and that he was perceived as a competent financial director and as an honest, diligent and hard-working person.
The way Ackerman left the company threatens to cast a shadow over his career, which has had its ups and downs. He is the vice-president of Siemens AG and did not inform the company of his decision to leave Zurich Insurance before announcing it.
If there are facts that show that he is in some way responsible for Votier's death by threatening him, for example, then this issue will be discussed by the board of directors of Siemens, said a source from the company. Ackermann is also on the board of directors of Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Investor AB.