Varta's share exceeded 180 euros It's worth it once. Today it is only ten euros. At this Friday's low, a share of Germany's former battery hope only cost 9.30 euros. A minus of more than 30 percent.

The reason: on Thursday afternoon Varta again asked for financial support, the latest bad news in a long chain of bad news. It was only last summer that Varta undertook a restructuring process.

At the beginning of 2017 things looked completely different. The company from Ellwangen, Baden-Württemberg, founded in 1887 as a battery factory in Hagen, North Rhine-Westphalia, returned to the stock market with hope.

At that point, Varta could already look back on a long, if eventful, history dating back to 1922 under the name AFA, owned by the Quandts, the family behind BMW.Varta built batteries for submarines during World War II. The popularity of the Varta brand later led to the name being changed. In the 90s, the medium-sized company had serious problems and in 2002 the Quandts finally split Varta.

An Austrian buys Varta: a brilliant stock market boom occurs

The turning point was the entry of the Austrian Michael Tojner through his industrial conglomerate Montana Tech. Tojner, who today remains a major shareholder, took Varta public again at 17.50 euros per share. The price did not stay at this level for long. Rumors that Varta would supply headphone batteries to tech giant Apple sent the stock soaring.

The rise reached a maximum of 181.30 euros at the beginning of 2021. Varta was a favorite of many private investors who, in addition to the business with Apple, hoped to gain a lot from the battery specialist Varta through the pivot to electric mobility and ecological conversion. But the calculation didn't work.

In 2022, the company, which was then listed on the MDax, made cash on its forecasts and its former boss, Herbert Schein, resigned. One reason: a major customer, presumably Apple, has now purchased its batteries from other suppliers. The main shareholder Tojner and a banking consortium finally agreed to a restructuring in mid-2023. Price then: just under 20 euros. Varta's stock warehouse had already been massively emptied.

First hackers attack, then Varta postpones the presentation of the balance sheet

The next blow came in February 2024: hackers attacked Varta, production stopped for weeks, as if the company didn't already have enough problems with the volatile button battery business and an unexpected and “significant” drop in sales of solar batteries. .

The damage from the attack even forced Varta to postpone its 2023 balance sheet until after April 30. However, this is likely to cost the group its place in the SDax small cap index.

The financing problems that are now known come, therefore, at an inopportune time. After last year's capital increase, the group had initially announced that it would be fully funded until 2026; They had also prepared for scenarios such as a drop in consumption, CEO Markus Hackstein told the Handelsblatt newspaper at the time.

A new renewal report is expected to arrive by summer.

It was now said that the plan to become profitable again by the end of 2026 was not enough. Varta needs fresh capital. Now the lenders must remain silent until the summer, until the Bonn company Auxilpartners presents a new restructuring report. A corresponding suspension agreement is “in the signing phase,” he said.

The investment bank Rothschild & Co. also advises the group. It is intended to develop options for future capital measures and financing steps. According to Varta, it is currently not possible to make any reliable statements about specific adjustments, restructuring measures and financing.

Varta continues selling, but loses hundreds of millions of euros

Presumably, writes the Handelsblatt newspaper citing observers, the main shareholder Tojner will have to intervene again. Tojner had already injected 50 million euros last year. The Austrian benefited greatly from the boom years of 2020 and 2021. He is said to have collected around €100 million in dividends.

A sum that Varta could use very well at this time. The group, which is currently worth around €610 million, has bank debts of €250 million and has borrowed another €235 million through bonds. In the first half of 2023, Varta still had a turnover of 339 million euros, but ultimately lost 110 million euros.

The actual amount of losses last year will only become clear when the balance sheet is presented later. But many investors don't seem to want to wait any longer, as evidenced by Varta's continued share price losses. Varta's once electrifying stock market story has run out of steam.

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