GERMAN COMPANY ALLEGEDLY CONS WARREN BUFFETT OUT OF €643M
Watch out, searchers! It can happen even to the most experienced. The acquired company photoshopped fake invoices to bolster a grossly inflated EBITDA:
US investor may have paid over four times too much for firm now being investigated for fraud
A German manufacturing company is being investigated for fraud after allegedly conning the legendary US investor Warren Buffett into paying at least four times over the odds for its business by Photoshopping company orders and invoices.
In February 2017 a unit of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc paid €800m (£715m) to buy Wilhelm Schulz, a family-run manufacturer of stainless steel based in Krefeld, western Germany – a rare foray into the world of family-run mittelstand companies for the tycoon, estimated to be the fourth-wealthiest person in the world.
After an anonymous tip-off by a whistleblower in May the same year, however, the US holding company began to question whether key documents had been doctored to create the impression of a booming business.
In reality, the company Buffett had just purchased was struggling and at risk of bankruptcy.
On 9 April a New York arbitration court ruled that the German company had systematically led investors astray in the run-up to the purchase and then tried to cover its tracks afterwards.
“This is not a close case,” the panel said in a 132-page ruling. “The evidence strongly points to fraud, and there is little in the record to suggest otherwise.”
Internal documents cited by the German newspaper Handelsblatt suggest some of Wilhelm Schulz’s employees inflated the company’s Ebitda – earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation – by simply scanning in letterheads of third companies and Photoshopping them to create fake orders and invoices.
At least 47 business deals that had helped create the impression of a company on the up were completely fabricated, said Handelsblatt.
More at: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/may/19/german-company-allegedly-cons-warren-buffett-out-of-643m and at Handelsblatt. Maybe someone with better German skills than me can find it there?