Deutsche Bank: The glass menagerie
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Deutsche Bank: The glass menagerie

It's huge, it's teeming with wild creatures, and it's fragile. In 1994 Deutsche Bank began to build an investment bank. In 1998 it restructured itself around corporate and investment banking. In 1999 it totally absorbed Bankers Trust. The result is a behemoth that relies heavily on global securities markets and the charisma of one man. Is this a safe vehicle for the next millennium? David Shirreff reports

Rolf Breuer, speaker of Deutsche Bank, defends the purchase of Bankers Trust

Where would you find a team that boasts a sumo wrestler, a black monk, an Indian chief, a Canadian bodybuilder, and a great white boss whose face is so perma-tanned that red ink won't stick to it?

These are the top managers of Deutsche Bank, although they do have many colleagues who escape such epithets, being ordinary men in suits.

The sumo wrestler is Hilmar Kopper, 64, chairman of the supervisory board, speaker of the bank until 1997, whose giant frame and booming voice led the charge into investment banking in the early 1990s while half the bank was obsessed with German unification. Now, from his non-executive position, he still pulls the strings, insiders say.

The black monk is Ulrich Cartellieri, 61, tall, with chiselled good looks, who sits next to Kopper on the supervisory board and is said to be "the mastermind behind the new Deutsche Bank". His father was a World War II tank commander, say colleagues, and he's the image of one himself ­ "straight out of central casting". When he smoked a pipe he tamped it down with an 8mm shell case.

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