The German businessman Lars Windhorst fascinates as much as he worries. His name circulates in the spheres of football, as finance.
His name continues to be mentioned in the media. For the general public, Lars Windhorst (46 years old) is however far from being a celebrity. The German businessman “is illustrated” this Thursday in the pages of the “Financial Times”.
He is presented there as the man who orchestrated the ousting of Werner Gegenbauer, the president of the football club Hertha Berlin of which he is the majority shareholder. To do this, he would have uses a private Israeli intelligence company, Shibumi Strategy Limitedwho now claims not to have received all of his fees.
His limited stake in Hertha Berlin – as required by Bundesliga rules to protect fans – prevents him from dismissing Gegenbauer with whom tensions are growing.
Werner Gegenbauer finally resigned from the presidency of Hertha Berlin after having spent 14 years there. Proof, for Shibumi Strategy Limited, that “the project has been completed”, writes the FT. The company is now claiming a million euros for his eight months of work, as well asa commission of four million euros agreed orally if the operation is successful.
The daily is based on court documents filed with a court in Tel Aviv. However, neither party wanted to explain. The CEO of Shibumi Strategy Limited says he “knows nothing about this alleged affair”. Werner Gegenbauer could not be reached. Lars Windhorst, meanwhile, speaks of “nonsense” and disputes the reliability of the documents filed.
Codename: Euro 2020
However, among these documents, the FT refers to a June 2022 report of the campaign codenamed “Euro 2020”. Shibumi explains how his team of 20 agents approached supporters, opponents, family members and Gegenbauer in person – often undercover – to obtain information for a smear campaign against club leader. A cartoonist was also hired to broadcast unflattering images of the 72-year-old man on social networks. But why such a campaign?
“The opacity that surrounds his activities is commensurate with his legend.”
Lars Windhorst enters the capital of the club Hertha Berlin, then in difficulty, in 2019. He promises to improve the situation. A year later, he increased his stake to 49.9%, but poor performances followed. His limited participation – as Bundesliga rules dictate to protect fans – prevents him from dismissing Gegenbauer with whom tensions are growing.
Involved in the Merit Capital case
His fans call him the German Bill Gates. For Helmut Kohl, he was the “Wunderkind”, the child prodigy. Others refer to a megalomaniac with many failures and fooling investors. “The opacity that surrounds his activities is commensurate with his legend,” writes Liberation.
At 16, he founded his own company, but he went bankrupt with the bursting of the internet bubble and was sentenced for 27 cases of deception. In 2009, new bankruptcy and conviction for fraud. He pleads guilty and receives a fine of 3.5 million euros and a one-year suspended prison sentence. The same year, he was accused by an American fund of having manipulated the price of one of his companies.
Closer to us, his name is mentioned in the file of the bankruptcy of the Belgian brokerage firm Merit Capital. Merit is said to have carried out several hundred million euros in buy-sell transactions for the French fund H2O, which was put under pressure by the local regulator for problems valuing illiquid investments. But part of these problematic investments are linked to Lars WindhorstAnd this, through its Dutch holding company Tennor.
- Lars Windhorst was born on November 22, 1976.
- In 1993, still studying, he set up his computer parts trading company, Windhorst Electronics, which expands to become Windhorst New Technologies. In 2003, it is the bankruptcy.
- In 2004, he co-founded Sapinda Investment Group, active in financing start-ups.
- In 2009, Sapinda is restructured and settles in Amsterdam. The holding company changed its name in 2019 to become Tenor.
- In 2019, he entered the capital of the football club Hertha Berlin and increases its stake to the maximum possible (49.9%) a year later.
- In the summer of 2020, he becomes the owner of the famous jumping event Global Champions Tour, until then owned by the Dutch millionaire Jan Tops, who was also, with the liberal Flemish families (De Backer, Buchmann and De Gucht), shareholder of Merit Capital.
- Lars Windhorst is cited in problematic investments splattering the French fund H2O and the Belgian company Merit Capital.