The Business Backlash

German businessman Klaus Esser, former chairman of Mannesmann, has one advantage over his colleague, Deutsche Bank chairman Josef Ackermann: his law degree. It's the kind of background that looks increasingly in demand in post-bubble Germany. Both men learned last week that they, along with four other men, had been indicted on still-unspecified charges after a two-year investigation into more than $100 million in bonuses paid out to Esser and other employees. The bonuses were awarded after U.K. telecoms giant Vodafone acquired Düsseldorf's Mannesmann in a $180 billion takeover, the most expensive in history.

Dubbed the Mannesmann Affair, the...

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