Anthony Hilton: Is Seifert damned by his publication?

It is hard to know who will look more silly – Werner Seifert, the ex-Deutsche Boerse CEO threatening to publish a kiss and tell story of his attempted takeover of the London Stock Exchange, or the current management of Deutsche Boerse, who are trying to stop him.

Certainly in PR terms Deutsche Boerse has got it all wrong –  the more it threatens to suppress Seifert's book, the more  it publicises the book. If his erstwhile former employers swallowed hard and ignored him,  Seifert would find publicity much harder to come by – like most business books, his would be read by only a few. I should perhaps declare an interest (or, strictly speaking, a lack of interest).

Shortly after he was ousted, Seifert approached me with the suggestion that I co-write the book with him. It was tempting because he certainly had some interesting e-mails to support his conspiratorial thesis. But what he lacked then, and indeed may still lack, was any understanding that to be credible, he would have to accept some personal blame for his departure from Deutsche Boerse. 

While  I was still mulling over how best to  broach this sensitive point,  the Financial Times reported that one of its former journalists, David Marsh, had been appointed as co-author. David as it happened lasted till October – he parted company with the project because it did not seem to him to have the required level of objectivity.

The sad thing in this is that the casualty is likely to be Seifert. There was considerable sympathy for him after his downfall and a perception that despite his faults he had been hard done by. But sympathy tends to dissipate when the victims refuse to move on. If he comes up with a book that portrays the tragic downfall of Saint Seifert, it will not rehabilitate him. It could even make him damaged goods in PR terms.

anthony.hilton@haynet.com

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