Former DWS boss Asoka Wöhrmann will take over as chief executive of struggling German property investment group Patrizia less than a year after he was ousted as head of Deutsche Bank’s asset manager following a greenwashing scandal.
Listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange, Patrizia has €59bn of assets under management and a market capitalisation of €850mn.
Wöhrmann has joined the company as CEO-elect and will replace founder and chief executive Wolfgang Egger “to lead the next growth phase” of the company.
Egger praised Wöhrmann’s “comprehensive international leadership experience, in-depth knowledge of financial markets and the global asset management industry as well as a broad international client network”.
Rising interest rates and a sudden slowdown in Germany’s property market capped Patrizia’s long-running ascent last year.
Pre-tax earnings fell by 76 per cent to €20.8mn compared with 2021 as Germany’s property boom hit a wall. Its shares are down 40 per cent over the past year and dropped another 1 per cent in morning trading in Frankfurt on Tuesday.
Founded in 1984 as a property investor, Patrizia over the past two years moved into infrastructure investment and private equity by acquiring London-based Whitehelm Capital and Copenhagen-based Advantage, with assets under management rising by 22 per cent last year.
Since 2017, it has increased its dividend by a third to €0.33 a share.
Wöhrmann announced his resignation at DWS, which has €841bn of assets under management, last June after the company was raided by police in a greenwashing scandal.
The raid followed allegations by DWS’s former ESG head Desiree Fixler, who accused the group of overstating its green credentials.
The allegations triggered investigations by US regulators, German financial watchdog BaFin and Frankfurt criminal prosecutors.
Wöhrmann’s successor at DWS, former Deutsche Bank manager Stefan Hoops, later acknowledged that the asset manager’s previous communication on ESG might have been too bullish.
“You will not hear me use terms like ‘leader’ or ‘world class’,” Hoops told journalists in December.
Wöhrmann was also facing questions for using a private email account for business purposes during his time as a senior Deutsche Bank manager.
Germany’s largest lender had also alerted the country’s financial crime watchdog to a €160,000 payment made by a client to Wöhrmann in 2018, which was later explained as part of a failed attempt to buy a Porsche.
Wöhrmann was formally on DWS’s payroll until the end of January 2023 and received a payout of €13.7mn following his resignation last June.
DWS highlighted in its annual report that the severance package was subject to the “possibility of clawback”.
Karl von Rohr, Deutsche Bank’s deputy chief executive in charge of DWS, will leave the lender in October when his current term on the executive board ends.
Union Investment, which holds a 5 per cent stake in Patrizia, declined to comment on Wöhrmann’s appointment.