* Powder in envelope may have been explosive-German police
* Substance looks homemade, not commercial, military--police
* Top German banker Ackermann always has bodyguards
By Maria Sheahan
FRANKFURT, Dec 8 A suspicious envelope
mailed to Deutsche Bank head Josef Ackermann, the
face of capitalism in Germany, on Wednesday contained an
apparent explosive powder that may have been homemade, police
said on Thursday.
"What we had here was a powder, which indicates that we're
not dealing with commercial or military explosives," Alexander
Kiessling, a spokesman for Frankfurt police, said. "It could be
something homemade, for instance made out of fireworks."
Ackermann, 63, a Swiss who is the first non-German to head
up Germany's flagship lender, is one of the few senior managers
in the country always surrounded by bodyguards. He is due to
retire in May next year after over 10 years at the bank's helm.
The letter incident occurred at a time when anti-capitalist
protesters across the world are demonstrating against what they
see as the excesses of bankers and financiers.
Security had been stepped up at Deutsche Bank offices around
the world, banking sources said.
A banking source and a U.S. law enforcement official said an
envelope with explosives in it was sent on Wednesday to Chief
Executive Ackermann but it was intercepted before it got to him.
Police in Frankfurt confirmed that a suspicious package was
sent to the bank's headquarters in the city and that they were
investigating, but they so far had been unable to confirm that
it contained explosives.
Kiessling said the powder in the envelope raised the
suspicion that it could detonate but that state police now had
to examine the substance to determine what it was, a procedure
that would probably take at least several hours.
Police declined to say whether there was a detonator in the
envelope that could have ignited the powder. German police and
banking sources said it was unclear who had sent the package.
The interception occurred a day before European leaders were
due to hold a summit in Brussels to mull a way out of the
sovereign debt crisis that started in Greece two years ago.
Germany is playing a leading role in efforts to save the
euro currency zone from collapse, which has led to the
imposition of austerity measures on Greece and other countries.
Ackermann is the highest paid CEO of a German blue-chip
company, earning 9 million euros ($12.05 million) in 2010, and
is known globally for his role as chairman of the Institute of
International Finance, the bank lobbying group negotiating a
private-sector contribution toward a Greek bailout.
Ackermann is credited with transforming Deutsche Bank into a
"global champion". He became a protagonist for Wall Street style
payouts and a shareholder-driven management style.
Ackermann initially fell out of favour with the German
establishment for saying Deutsche Bank was in need of a
performance boost, an approach that some politicians feel
clashes with the "social market economy".
Last month, Ackermann was whistled and shouted at by members
of the Occupy Movement in the northern German port city of
Hamburg when he tried to give a speech. At one point he invited
the masked demonstrators up on the podium to ask him questions.
A previous head of Deutsche Bank, Alfred Herrhausen, was
assassinated by the Red Army Faction in November 1989. The
leftist guerrilla group planted a roadside bomb near his home in
Bad Homburg on the outskirts of Frankfurt and waited for his
Mercedes-Benz limousine to drive by.
Since then Deutsche Bank has stepped up security procedures
to protect its executives. The banking source said that since
2006 every item of mail sent to members of Deutsche Bank's
Executive Committee was checked.
($1 = 0.7468 euros)
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)