FRANKFURT (AFX) - Deutsche Bank AG's supervisory board chairman Rolf Breuer resigned effective May 3 in order to relieve the bank from 'further discussions regarding him personally' in relation to a long-running dispute between the bank and former media magnate Leo Kirch.
He will be replaced by Deutsche Bank's chief financial officer, Clemens Boersig.
Boersig will resign from the bank's management board May 3, after which Anthony Di Iorio will become chief financial officer.
Breuer served as Deutsche Bank's chief executive until 2002, when he was replaced by Josef Ackermann.
In a statement, Deutsche Bank said Breuer's decision to resign was directly related to a January 24 Supreme Court ruling.
The court ruled partially in favour of Leo Kirch, who accuses the German bank of precipitating the fall of his once-sprawling media empire.
Deutsche Bank contravened its contractual obligations towards one of Kirch's companies, PrintBeteiligungs GmbH, and was therefore liable to pay damages, the Bundesgerichtshof or Federal Supreme Court ruled.
But the judges said the bank was not responsible for the collapse of the entire Kirch group.
The legal row dates back to February 2002, when the then Deutsche Bank chairman Rolf Breuer publicly questioned the creditworthiness of the Kirch group in a television interview.
Kirch argues that Breuer's comments directly led to the collapse of his debt-laden media empire, which finally filed for insolvency later that year.
Deutsche Bank and Breuer counter that Kirch's financial problems were already well known and that Breuer's comments came under personal freedom of expression.
In 2003, the Munich court found in Kirch's favour -- at least in principle -- without actually ordering Deutsche Bank to pay concrete damages, for which Kirch would have to sue separately.
But the court found that Breuer himself had committed no wrong-doing.
Neither side was happy with the ruling and after the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe admitted an appeal in 2004, both sides appealed to the supreme court. firstname.lastname@example.org amk/amk/bam COPYRIGHT Copyright AFX News Limited 2005. All rights reserved. The copying, republication or redistribution of AFX News Content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of AFX News. AFX News and AFX Financial News Logo are registered trademarks of AFX News Limited