Wirecard on verge of bankruptcy due to black hole on its balance sheet
German payment firm Wirecard is filing an application for insolvency proceedings. Its management confessed that it needed court protection “due to impending insolvency and over-indebtedness.” Remarkably, the prosperous hi-tech company is included in the DAX, the key German blue chip stock market index, tracking the performance of the 30 largest companies.
Wirecard’s financial records revealed that €1.9 billion ($2.1 billion) of cash on its balance sheet had gone missing. The company failed to explain the reasons behind that accounting black hole. Meanwhile, former CEO Markus Braun was arrested on charges of inflating the company’s balance sheet. He is suspected of exaggerating the company’s financial records in an effort to enhance its profile to investors. So, it could happen that the missing funds had never existed. Perhaps, this way Wirecard attempted to strike a deal with creditors, investigators suggested one of the versions. Since then, Markus Braun has been released on a 5 million-euro bail.
Wirecard used to be one of hi-flying companies in Germany and also a hot investment target. With Braun at the helm, the payment firm climbed to the ranks of the companies with the largest market capitalization in Germany. Unfortunately, the financial shenanigans made its market cap tenfold smaller. It shrank to €2.4 billion from €24 billion a year ago. Besides, after the black hole announcement Wircard’s shares plummeted to nearly €4 from €100 in just a week. As a result, trading its shares was suspended a few times on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.