The payment service provider Wirecard, which is under pressure, has now replaced its head of the supervisory board prematurely.
The previous chief inspector, Wulf Matthias, cleared the executive chair with immediate effect for Thomas Eichelmann, who most recently headed the audit committee on the committee, as the company announced late on Friday evening. Matthias has been a member and chairman of the supervisory board since 2008. Eichelmann had only been appointed at the general meeting last year.
Matthias will continue to be a regular member of the Supervisory Board until the end of his term in summer 2021, it said. The procedure was justified with the wish of the 75-year-old to initiate a generation change.
However, there had also been clear criticism from investors about the work of the supervisors. The books are currently being audited by KPMG’s auditors. Regular auditor at Wirecard is EY. Wirecard had decided to take steps to counter the burgeoning media reports about alleged accounting irregularities.
With the change of power on the Supervisory Board, a long-time companion of Wirecard CEO Markus Braun is now in the second row when it comes to managing the fast-growing group.
A dealer said Eichelmann should offer Braun more resistance as chairman of the board. Matthias’ relationship with Braun was considered too close by some investors, wrote analyst Wolfgang Specht from Bankhaus Lampe. Eichelmann is an expert in bookkeeping and auditing. The manager, born in 1965, was previously CFO of Deutsche Börse during the financial crisis around ten years ago. Most recently, he had headed Aton.
The Wirecard share is currently trading at a good 113 euros – far from the record high of September 2018 at the time of DAX-Ascent at 199 euros. Last year, the paper was a clear loser in the leading German index with a loss of just under a fifth. In previous years, however, the growth of the industry and the group had pushed the course up sharply. At the end of 2016, he commuted around 40 euros. With a market value of around 14 billion euros, Wirecard is worth around 2 billion less than the largest German money house, the Deutsche Bank,
Wirecard has been under fire for some time. The British “Financial Times” (“FT”) in particular has been publishing critical reports about the company from Aschheim near Munich for a long time. A year ago, an article on irregularities and possible bogus bookings in Singapore caused the stock price to drop by almost half within a week. Wirecard had to admit minor booking errors due to “quality deficiencies” after the examination by a commissioned law firm, but was relieved of the charge of systematic incorrect bookings.
Nevertheless, employees in Singapore could have been punished, the authorities in the country are still investigating. In Germany, the public prosecutor’s office in Munich and the financial supervisory authority Bafin suspect that Wirecard may have fallen victim to an action orchestrated by speculators, with which so-called short sellers want to earn from falling share prices – as was already the case in the past. According to the company, those responsible for the “FT” could be under a blanket with short sellers, Wirecard is taking legal action against the newspaper. This in turn sees itself exonerated from this accusation after specially commissioned studies.
After new allegations in the British business newspaper about alleged bogus bookings with subsidiaries in Dubai and Ireland, Wirecard had initiated the special audit of the balance sheets. According to CFO Alexander von Knoop, the special audit is expected to last until the end of the first quarter of 2020. Afterwards, the results will be published in a report.
Investors are pleased to hear the news – Wirecard papers are currently climbing 2.39 percent in XETRA trading to EUR 113.55.
ASCHHEIM / MUNICH (dpa-AFX)
Image source: Wirecard, CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP / Getty Images, Anton Garin / Shutterstock.com