Shock as Zurich Insurance head Josef Ackermann quits after finance director's death

 

Josef Ackermann, the chairman of Switzerland’s top-ranking Zurich Insurance Group and a former head of Deutsche Bank, has stepped down with immediate effect following the suspected suicide of the company’s chief financial officer.

Mr Ackermann’s resignation followed the sudden death of 53-year-old  Pierre Wauthier,  the global insurance giant’s financial chief since 2011, who had complained of from stress before his death. His body was found at his lakeside home in Zug outside Zurich on Monday. Police said he appeared to have committed suicide.

In a statement Mr Ackermann suggested Mr Wauthier’s family believed he bore some of the blame for his death. “I have reasons to believe that the family is of the opinion that I should take my share of responsibility, unfounded as the allegations may be,” he said.

He stated that he had tendered his resignation because his continued successful board leadership of the group had been “called into question”. The insurer’s board said it accepted his decision with deep regret. It announced that the company’s vice-chairman, Tom de Swaan, would replace Mr Ackermann, whose term was due to expire in 2015.

Police are still investigating the cause of Mr Wauthier’s death, which followed the suicide of another top Swiss company executive last month. German-born Carsten Schloter, the 49-year-old head of the Swiss telecommunications giant Swisscom, was found dead near his home in Freiburg in late July. He had also complained about suffering from stress.

Mr Ackermann, who left Deutsche Bank in 2012 to return to his native Switzerland said yesterday that he had been “deeply shocked” by the sudden and unexpected death of Mr Wauthier, who leaves a wife and two children. His apparent suicide appeared to have occurred at a time the Zurich Group was facing financial difficulties.

The untimely deaths of  two of Switzerland’s leading executives have prompted calls for greater support for top businessmen who show signs stress and a re-examination of the country’s highly competitive boardroom culture.

Switzerland was rocked by Mr Schloter’s suicide, which appeared to have been prompted by the break-up of his marriage in 2009, separation from his three young children, and the near permanent stress inflicted on him by his Smartphone – the device to which owed much of his business success.

In a series of candid interviews given shortly before his death, Mr Schloter explained how he found it impossible to switch off his phone and felt under constant stress: “I find it increasingly difficult to calm down and to reduce tempo,” he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 per annum + commission: SThree: Sthree have an exciting opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £32,000+

£18000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?