The early announcement of the planned departure of Mr Kopper, who has run Germany's biggest bank during a period in which it has suffered a succession of embarrassing problems, surprised analysts yesterday. He said in July he had extended his contract for another year.
Mr Breuer, 58, has been one of the brains behind Deutsche's expansion into investment banking, through Morgan Grenfell in London.
His rise to the top of the bank was seen as a good omen for continued investment in the London operations, which have been embarrassed by the heavy losses run up by Peter Young, the fund manager sacked by the bank.
Germany's largest bank also said the former president of Credit Suisse, Josef Ackermann, would immediately replace two management board executives, Ellen Schneider-Lenne and Ulrich Cartellieri.
Mr Kopper, Mr Cartellieri and Ms Schneider-Lenne were leaving the management board at their own request, the bank said in a statement released after a supervisory board meeting.
Mr Kopper, 61, took over in 1989 when his predecessor, Alfred Herrhausen, was murdered by left-wing guerrillas. He will step down from his executive role on 20 May and is expected to become the new supervisory board chairman.
Mr Breuer has been with the bank for 30 years and on the management board since 1985. He is chairman of the supervisory board of the stock exchange holding company, Deutsche Boerse, where he has been a driving force behind reforms of the stock market.Reuse content