Retrial for Mannesmann bonus case

A German court has ordered the retrial of Deutsche Bank chief executive Josef Ackermann and five other ex-members of engineering giant Mannesmann’s board.

An original trial last year cleared the six over their roles in approving bonuses relating to Vodafone’s acquisition of Mannesmann in 2000.

They were accused of paying executives bonuses worth around 60m euros ($71m).

The trial was Germany’s highest profile corruption case in decades and is set to increase pressure on Mr Ackermann.

“This is the latest chapter in a five-year controversy over the Mannesmann takeover,” said the BBC’s Germany correspondent, Ray Furlong.

Mr Ackermann, one of Germany’s highest profile executives, is already under pressure for his management of Deutsche Bank, and press reports are speculating that the legal battle may fuel calls for him to step down.

“It could also reignite a much wider debate about business practices in Germany,” the BBC’s Furlong said.

Vodafone agreed to buy German cell phone rival Mannesmann for $180bn in 2000.

Following the closure of the deal, a number of large bonuses and golden handshakes were paid to departing executives.

Prosecutors argue that by approving the bonuses, the executives failed to safeguard Mannesmann assets, breached their fiduciary duty and sold shareholders short.

The executives counter that the payments were just reward for hard work that more than doubled the Mannesmann share price.

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