Supervisory Board Day: Thomas Geisel and the Mayor Curse

Thomas Geisel

At this point, we have repeatedly and vehemently criticised the fact that numerous supervisory boards of public companies are de facto “politburos” – think of BER airport or the railways. We will continue to do so, but the truth is that in many federal states legal requirements prevent municipalities from sending enough independent experts to supervisory bodies. At the German Supervisory Board Conference (#DART14), for example, it became clear at the “Dinner & Talk” with Düsseldorf’s Lord Mayor Thomas Geisel that he could hardly put the chairmanship of the Stadtsparkasse’s Board of Directors in the hands of an experienced manager.

Governance Reform: Our Appeal to Laschet & Pinkwart

This is because the NRW Savings Bank Act stipulates that the office is generally taken over by a “member of the executing agency” or a “chief administrative officer”. Other municipal companies are also subject to rigid regulations; according to the North Rhine-Westphalian municipal regulations, “the mayor or the employee of the municipality proposed by him must be counted” if the city sends more than one representative to the supervisory body. The situation is similar in other countries. Certainly: Almost everywhere there would be legal leeway to send significantly more external experts to the committees. But after the talks with Geisel, we are more convinced than ever: Parallel to municipal governance reforms, we need an initiative at state level. Wouldn’t that be a project for the black-yellow state government in Düsseldorf?