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Banking

Werner Seifert book review: A comic-book tale of good versus evil

After having been unseated as CEO of Deutsche Börse by hedge funds, Werner Seifert has concluded that the hectic race for alpha will destroy capitalism. Euromoney looks at Seifert’s passionate espousal of good old corporate values.

“Fly home buddy, I work alone,” Mr Incredible tells Incrediboy at the beginning of The Incredibles. In the movie, Incrediboy, who has no superpowers but lots of ambition, has his offer of help rebuffed by his idol during a robbery by a notorious French thief. The rejection leaves Incrediboy with a burning desire for revenge, although Mr Incredible and family ultimately survive his dastardly schemes to deliver a happy ending.

Werner Seifert’s new book, whose title translates as Invasion of the Locusts,* brings to mind this episode, with Seifert cast as Mr Incredible and Chris Hohn, of hedge fund TCI, as Incrediboy. The book is the story of their epic struggle for power over the future of the Deutsche Börse after its failed bid for the London Stock Exchange in December 2004. But there is no happy ending for Mr Incredible in this version – Seifert was unseated as Deutsche Börse CEO on May 9 2005 – and he is clearly still angry and incredulous that Hohn won. Not only that – the incidental Frenchman, Jean-François Théodore, chief executive of rival exchange Euronext, is still on the loose.

In an unlikely paean to Rhenish capitalism, Seifert’s book – which is so far only available in German – calls for Hohn and those like him to be caged before any more damage is done to the world’s businesses.

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