Chief executive Carsten Kengeter came under fire during Deutsche Börs annual meeting.
The capital market company failed to merge with its British counterpart for the third time in 17 years earlier this year after the LSE rejected European Commission concessions without warning or consulting its German partner.
Brexit threw the proposed merger into doubt raising uncertainties over the group’s intentions to locate the headquarters of the merged companies in London, placing the company outside of the EU.
Deutsche Börse Chief Executive Carsten Kengeter has come under fire from investors
The German company acknowledged last month that the failed tie-up had cost £65.5 million.
At Deutsche Börse’s annual meeting in Frankfurt yesterday, shareholders refused to give their seal of approval to Mr Kengeter’s performance over the previous 12 months, other management board members suffered a similar fate.
Under the German corporate code, according to the Financial Times, a vote to “discharge” the board of a company is deemed a vote of confidence in its management and policies.
A vote against discharge is the strongest way shareholders can express displeasure at an AGM.
Andreas Lang, a representative of the DSW shareholder association, said Deutsche Börse’s leadership had failed to factor in Brexit when designing the deal, which was announced three months before the UK vote.
Mr Lang said: “How blue-eyed does one have to be to believe that the German exchanges regulator would, in the case of Brexit, allow a headquarters located outside the EU?
Deutsche Börse Chief Executive Carsten Kengeter speaking at the AGM
“How much of a dilettante does one have to be, to believe that in the case of Brexit it would be possible, if necessary, to renegotiate key points of the agreement?
“What a technical error! And how embarrassing is it, when as a highly paid manager, one has to accept charges of naivety from politicians?”
Martin Weimann, from the VzfK shareholder association, accused Deutsche Börs of failing to spend enough time convincing politicians in Hessen, the German state where Deutsche Börse is based, on the merits of the deal.
He accused Deutsche Börse of neglecting its base and focusing too much on federal politicians in the German capital Berlin.
Mr Weimann said: “One can make mistakes, no question. But when you make the same mistake again and again, then it is either the expression of narrow-mindedness or stupidity.
“Lessons have to be learnt here, in particular by Mr Kengeter and [Deutsche Börse chairman Joachim] Faber. In my opinion, we need a fresh start in personnel terms.”
The proposed merger between Deutsche Börse and the LSE failed
At the meeting Mr Faber stated that he regretted that the LSE had ultimately decided “not to take the final step” and agree to the stipulations made by the EU and threw his weight behind Mr Kengeter.
Mr Jengeter is currently being investigated over potential insider trading – allegations he says are “unfounded”.
He said: “These allegations have deeply concerned me personally, because this is exactly what I did not do.
“Deutsche Börse, as well as myself personally, are fully cooperating with the public prosecutor’s office, and I am certain that, following detailed investigation, the allegations will turn out to be unfounded.”
Deutsche Börse Chief Executive Carsten Kengeter
Following the failed LSE merger, Deutsche Börse now aims to extend its trading platforms to a broader range of assets.
Mr Kengeter pointed to foreign-exchange as particularly promising, along with energy, raw materials and other commodities trading.
In May, Deutsche Börse’s energy exchange platform EEX bought the US electronic commodities exchange Nodal.