FRANKFURT Aug 5 Deutsche Bank's
former chief executive Rolf Breuer has offered to pay personally
for part of a costly out-of-court settlement reached earlier
this year with the heirs of the Kirch media empire, Breuer's
lawyer said on Tuesday.
The bank's supervisory board last week decided to seek
compensation from Breuer after ending a 12-year battle in
February with the Kirch heirs.
Kirch, who died in 2011, blamed the country's largest lender
for his group's demise, setting off one of Germany's most
acrimonious corporate disputes, which was settled in a deal
costing Deutsche about 925 million euros ($1.24 billion).
By making a claim against Breuer, Deutsche Bank can open the
door to up to 500 million euros in compensation from so-called
directors and officers' liability insurance.
Insurers Allianz and Zurich Insurance Group
are the two principal D&O insurers for Breuer, a
person familiar with the thinking of the supervisory board told
Reuters. Allianz and Zurich declined to comment.
Wilhelm Happ, the Hamburg-based lawyer representing Breuer
and who acts as his spokesman in the Kirch affair, said the
77-year-old former CEO and later chairman had not yet received a
formal request for compensation but Breuer was cooperating and
had already offered to help pay.
"I can confirm that Mr. Breuer is being very cooperative in
the affair," Happ told Reuters by telephone.
Deutsche Bank is seeking to recuperate as much as possible
of the 925 million euros it agreed to pay in the settlement, the
Breuer's own contribution is likely to be only several
million euros or a tiny fraction of the total claim, the person
said. Happ declined to comment on the size of Breuer's
According to the source, the bank expects a contribution in
the tens of millions of euros to the claim to come from
Deutsche Bank still expects to have to pay most of the
settlement itself, the source said, and aims to have put the
affair in the past by May 2015, when the bank holds its annual
Deutsche Bank declined to comment.
Kirch had claimed then-CEO Breuer triggered his media
group's downfall by questioning its creditworthiness in a 2002
television interview. Kirch sought for years to recoup about 2
billion euros in damages.
In 2002, while he was participating in the World Economic
Forum at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel, Breuer appeared to
raise questions about Kirch Group's creditworthiness during a TV
Breuer was also then chairman of Germany's private-sector
bank association. Kirch argued the comments amounted to a signal
for other creditors to discontinue funding.
The family later argued the statement was part of a
deliberate scheme to force Kirch into bankruptcy so that the
bank could reap hefty fees helping the group to restructure.
Deutsche Bank and its executives have denied that Breuer's
comments led to the collapse of the Kirch empire.
But the case has occupied lawyers, the courts and the media
for years, with Germany's constitutional court getting involved
at one point, and has led to a number of additional lawsuits or
(Reporting by Kathrin Jones; Writing by Thomas Atkins, editing
by Philipp Halstrick and David Evans)