Ex-D’Ieteren CEO becomes Chief of Cabinet at liberal party
Axel Miller (54), ex-CEO of D’Ieteren, and former CEO of Belgium’s now state-owned Dexia Bank found a new job as Chief of Cabinet at the Belgian liberal party MR. He fills in the vacancy Gaëlle Smet left when she moved to the European Parliament.
Apparently, Miller was ‘seduced’ by young MR president Georges-Louis Bouchez who wanted a ‘heavyweight’ for his cabinet. One of the tasks for Miller will be to revitalize the internal affairs and the Jean Gol research department of the party.
Young and dynamic president
“In a fast-changing world, the future belongs to the new generations, and new ways of functioning, and governing have to be imagined. I’m delighted to be able to support Georges-Louis, a young, ambitious, and dynamic president, and our team in the vision that he wants to develop for the future of our country”, Miller says in a press release.
The recruitment of Axel Miller raises some eyebrows within the political scene though, as he has a history of being fired as CEO three times, once at Dexia, next at Petercam, and finally at Belgium’s biggest car importer, D’Ieteren. That’s generally not what you want as ‘credentials’ on your curriculum vitae. But in most cases Miller’s resignation raised questions.
Sacked by Sarkozy
Axel Miller, with an educational background as a financial lawyer, became the CEO of Dexia bank in 2006 at the age of 40. “The problems at the bank date from before his arrival,” a connoisseur of the house told newspaper L’Echo. “He inherited the mess of the heedless actions from his predecessor, Frenchman Pierre Richard.”
But when the banking crisis hit in 2008, and Dexia was to topple over, it was French president Nicolas Sarkozy who insisted on Miller’s resignation in September 2008. It was a requirement for France to help save the bank. Despite the firm support he got from his employees, Miller had to leave.
Axel Miller stayed in the financial world, becoming the chief at the Belgian private and institutional investment institution Petercam. Three years later, he was pushed toward the exit again to surface the next year in 2013, as CEO at the D’Ieteren Group, where he was a board member since 2010.
Miller headed the D’Ieteren Group for more than five years and was able to show good figures. Yearly results were up 6,9% and profits increased by 16%. He was the man who made a name by steering the traditional car importing group into buying Italian luxury notebook maker Moleskine and selling 40% of car window group Belron, which left the company with a pile of cash of 1,44 billion euros.
But in a press release published on April 8th last year, the Belgian car importer group, D’Ieteren, bids its CEO Axel Miller suddenly farewell. An apparent reason wasn’t communicated.
Long existing tensions
The press release said drily: “The Board of Directors of D’Ieteren and Axel Miller have decided to end their collaboration. Consequently, Axel Miller leaves his position as CEO, Managing Director of D’Ieteren and other positions within the Group and its subsidiaries.”
“I think it was a difficult choice for chairman Nicolas D’Ieteren to dismiss Axel Miller whom he has known for a long time as a family advisor,” an internal source told L’Echo at that time. The acquisitions were a problematic issue. Files of potential takeover targets arrived by hundreds, and when the management didn’t discard them, it was the family who did.”
“Tensions existed for a long time. There have been discussions going on for 18 months and deep disagreements over the purchase strategy,” explained a source in those days.