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ROUNDUP: Grenke defies allegations with more new business – Customs also determined | message

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BADEN-BADEN (dpa-AFX) – The leasing specialist GRENKE, which is under pressure due to the allegations of balance sheet manipulation, is also continuing to fight the consequences of the corona pandemic. Although the company was able to make slightly more new leasing business than expected in the past quarter, despite the allegations, its value was still well below the level of the previous year, as the company announced on Friday in Baden-Baden. Meanwhile it became known that the special money laundering unit of the customs FIU was investigating several suspicious transaction reports against Grenke.

On the stock exchange, the news in the MDAX-listed Grenke share fell by more than two percent. Most recently, the price was able to recover and the share was practically at the previous day’s level at EUR 31.50. The Grenke share has fallen significantly since the attack; the company’s market value fell by a little more than 40 percent or one billion euros to just under 1.5 billion euros.

The customs special unit FIU has “currently identified eight suspicious transaction reports that could be in a possible connection with the allegations currently made against companies of the Grenke group of companies.” This emerges from a response from the federal government to a written request from the financial policy spokeswoman for the Green parliamentary group, Lisa Paus, which the financial news agency dpa-AFX has received. The “Handelsblatt” had previously reported on it.

The federal government continues to say whether there is actually a connection. “Five of the eight reports, all of which were received before the allegations against Grenke AG became known, were submitted directly to the law enforcement authorities as a result of the initial analysis.” According to “Handelsblatt”, the remaining three reports are being analyzed by the FIU. “New findings” are also incorporated.

At Grenke, however, so far nothing is known about the FIU investigations, as a group spokeswoman confirmed on request. However, such allegations are generally not uncommon. “The FIU receives thousands of such reports on the table every year.”

The leasing specialist from Baden-Baden is under heavy pressure after allegations by the investor group Viceroy Research. Behind the shortseller is the Briton Fraser Perring, who had already quarreled with the now insolvent payment processor Wirecard. Viceroy accuses the Grenke Group, among other things, of an opaque business model with unfair practices relating to fictitious profits and excessively reported cash holdings. Company founder Wolfgang Grenke himself accuses Viceroy of having enriched himself through fraud.

Because of the allegations against the Baden-Baden leasing specialist, the financial supervisory authority Bafin is now also active. As part of the special audit that started on Monday, Grenke’s consolidated financial statements for 2019 will also be examined. The auditing and consulting company Mazars is commissioned.

Grenke himself has so far rejected all allegations and initiated its own tests. The previous Grenke auditor KPMG was commissioned with a special report. In addition, the much criticized by Viceroy franchise businesses and their takeovers by the accounting firm Warth & Klein Grant Thornton are to be examined carefully. Company founder Wolfgang Grenke, whom Viceroy accuses of having enriched himself through cheating, is currently suspending his supervisory board mandate.

In his announcement published before the weekend with key data for the third quarter, Grenke did not comment on the allegations. Accordingly, new leasing business fell by around a quarter to EUR 517.6 million compared to the previous year. “With a level of 75.4 percent in the same quarter of the previous year, the volume of new business was slightly above the level of around 70 percent last communicated by the board of directors,” it said. In addition, the margin, based on the contribution margin, increased slightly compared to the previous year.

Warburg analyst Marius Fuhrberg praised in an initial reaction that business at Grenke had gone well despite the allegations. The new business was better than expected./tav/zb/jha/



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