The Business On... Josef Ackermann, chairman of the IIF

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The Independent Online

The German banker?

Swiss, but you are forgiven for forgetting. He has been running Deutsche Bank since 2002. The bank, he says, is "a proxy for Germany", which makes him a proxy for German banking.

I'm quaking. He sounds really powerful

Even more so in recent weeks, as the crisis has spiralled. As head of the Institute of International Finance, he is a lobbyist for Europe's banking industry, and one of the people holding the fate of Greece in his scissorhands.

That's a joke about haircuts

Yes. Mr Ackermann sat out the coffee-fuelled talks in Brussels this week, but when Angela Merkel stormed in to demand a deal on a haircut for Greek bondholders, the IIF's negotiator in the room had to reach for the telephone. From a Bond villain-style bunker in Frankfurt, he said: "OK, 50 per cent."

How are relations with Chancellor Merkel?

Not so cosy now as they were early in her tenure. She got into trouble for hosting a "Dinner for Jo" on taxpayer euros, on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

It's been a full career

Certainly has. He was a star of Swiss finance, but Deutsche poached him from Credit Suisse to bulk up its shaky investment banking operations. It quickly became obvious he would be its first non-German chief executive, his skills schmoozing clients one-on-one trumping his telephone directory-reading, public-speaking monotone.

I recall a legal difficulty

A minor detail. German prosecutors tried him for handing outsize bonuses to executives at the telecoms firm Mannesmann. He paid €3.2m (£2.8m) of his own money to make it all go away.

And now he is retiring?

He was originally scheduled to go last year, but two successors have now finally been named. Deutsche Bank will miss him. Not so sure about Greece.