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Last Updated: Monday, 3 April 2006, 11:36 GMT 12:36 UK
Deutsche Bank chairman to resign
Deutsche Bank logo
Deutsche Bank is Germany's largest bank
Rolf Breuer, the chairman of Deutsche Bank, is to resign following a ruling in an ongoing court case.

Media tycoon Leo Kirch brought a court case against Mr Breuer for comments made in a 2002 interview, which he said undermined his firm's credit position.

Deutsche Bank said Mr Breuer wanted to protect it from "further discussion regarding him personally" after a German Supreme Court ruling in January.

The firm's shares rose on news of Mr Breuer's departure next month.

Some financial analysts have claimed that Mr Breuer was increasingly at odds with chief executive Josef Ackermann over the firm's strategy.

Key interview

The Kirch Group filed for bankruptcy in April 2002.

In January this year, a court ruled that Mr Kirch, head of the Kirch group, could continue his case against Mr Breuer, based on comments made during a TV interview in 2002.

The board accepted the decision with regret, but expressed its respect for his action
Deutsche Bank statement

During the interview Mr Breuer - who at the time was chief executive of Deutsche Bank - said to Bloomberg TV:

"From what you can read and hear, the finance sector is not willing to provide further debt or equity on the same terms."

Mr Kirch believed the statement undermined the creditworthiness of his company - thereby making it harder to raise money.

While permitting the case to continue, the court also ruled that Mr Breuer's comment had broken Deutsche Bank's duty not to threaten the creditworthiness of the Kirch group.

Mr Kirch needs now to prove that Mr Breuer's comment was a direct cause in his company's insolvency.

If the two sides do not manage settle out of court, Mr Kirch will need to bring a separate court case to decide on the amount of damages.

Deutsche Bank said in a statement on Sunday: "The board accepted the decision with regret, but expressed its respect for his action."

The bank will propose to shareholders during its next meeting on 1 June, that Mr Boersig, currently finance chief, will replace Mr Breuer.

It is unclear what Deutsche Bank's liability is in this case. No one at the bank was available for comment.

Other cases

Last May, Frankfurt prosecutors dismissed a case started at Mr Kirch's request against Deutsche Bank for alleged falsification of balance sheets regarding the Kirch group, citing lack of evidence.

US Federal Courts in New York rejected a case also brought by Mr Kirch against Deutsche Bank and Mr Breuer, claiming they were part of a conspiracy against him.

The court said the evidence was inconclusive.

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