Larq Fund – a former major shareholder in Nextbike – boasts that it has developed a project that was doomed to success. CEO Larq Wojciech Byj notes that of the 500 bikes at its start of operations in 2013, the company acquired as many as 20,000 bikes under the previous owner’s supervision. vehicles.
In 2017, it recorded a profit in In the amount of 4.4 million PLN. There is no trace of past successes – after many years of trouble, The company was on the verge of bankruptcy and today it is undergoing restructuring. As the company’s president bitterly admits, the stock exchange’s valuation before Nextbike GmbH’s liquidity problems in 2019 fluctuated in the range 80-100 million PLNtoday a little more 10 million PLN.
what happened? According to Wojciech Page, the success of the Polish company fell victim to the harmful policy of the collaborator. He sees the reasons for his failures in the minority shareholder who would have put the records under his feet from the start. It is related to the German company Nextbike GmbH, which was responsible for providing technology and equipment to the Polish company.
– In the first period, cooperation was difficult, but it was true – says Page. However, the change was brought about by the purchase of Nextbike GmbH by the mutual fund of investors, which, in its opinion, only sought to acquire and sell the company in Poland.
Byj believes that since then, Nextbike GmbH has deliberately delayed delivery of the bikes so that the company gets into trouble, so that they can be quickly taken over and sold at a fairly low cost following the bailout case. For this reason, first of all, the German partner had to delay delivery, and after the threat of bankruptcy, he decided to become the main shareholder of the company. – Nextbike GmbH delivered bikes late or incomplete. As a result of the above, Nextbike SA received several million fines from cities, which had to be calculated according to the rules of the tender procedure – says Wojciech Begg.
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As he points out, as a result, the company faced the risk of bankruptcy. As Byj says, it was only in this case that Nextbike GmbH decided to “salvage” the majority of shares from Larq. It happened in 2019, and the German partner earned 45.1 percent. share in the capital and 51.7 percent. Voting at the general meeting.
Why should Nextbike GmbH prevent the development of the company, if it should be in the interest of both shareholders? The Polish market accounted for about 30-40 percent. Ultimately, Nextbike Gmbh and the fund needed complete control of the Polish company in order to be able to sell the company at a good valuation to an industrial investor. The fund achieved its plan by taking control of Nextbike Polska, then selling Nextbike Gmbh to Tier – values Byj.
So it happened. Indeed, having become the majority shareholder, in 2021, the Co-Investors Fund sold the entire Nextbike GmbH, and therefore indirectly also the Polish part, to the Berlin-based Tier.
New owner, similar claims
Larq, which still owns some shares in Nextbike Polska (11% in the capital and 8% in the vote), estimates that despite the change, the company’s problems have remained the same – that is, Nextbike GmbH. The previous owners suspected that Tier deliberately weakened the Polish company, To introduce the other subsidiary companies of Nextbike GmbH to the domestic market, to which it is already fully subordinate.
This is evidenced by the fact that Nextbike Polska did not participate in the next tender in WarsawAlthough the city has been the jewel in the company’s crown so far. Especially since the competition for capital was won by … Nextbike GZM, which was the only one to bid. It is still a subsidiary of the German owner, but without Larq being the Polish shareholder. The cost of maintaining a city bike for six years in Warsaw in the years 2023-2028 is the cost In total, 104.9 million PLN.
As Larq assures, the GZM can serve the capital, because the exclusive license to the system that the Germans once offered to the old entity is no longer valid.
Here we come to another objection against the main owner. According to Wojciech Byj, it was the current owner who allowed Nextbike Polska to remove the exclusive license for the systems of its German counterpart in 2020. And it was precisely, he argues, that was the main competitive advantage of the Polish company.
We believe Nextbike Gmbh is the culprit and beneficiary of the company’s problems. Its goal was to weaken Nextbike Polska, withdrawing its exclusive license to Poland, which ultimately meant that Nextbike Gmbh could operate and win contracts through other companies, as happened in Warsaw, and would soon be in Silesia – says Wojciech Begg.
Another accusation made by Lark is the failure to pay the fines that the German company will transfer to the Polish company due to previous delays in the delivery of the technology – according to the calculations of the previous board. It is expected to reach 4 million euros. – To date, the Board of Directors has not requested settlement of payments by Nextbike GmbH in relation to Nextbike SA resulting from the sanctions in question – states Byj.
In the face of such strong allegations, is Raqq planning to take legal action? However, at this point, you do not want to provide information about it. Pursuant to the provisions of the applicable Commercial Companies and Partnerships Law, any person acting at his expense while participating in the establishment of a commercial company or being a member of its board of directors, supervisory board, audit committee or liquidator. It is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine.
The other side of the coin
Tomasz Wojtkiewicz, current Chairman of Nextbike Polska Refutes Rq’s allegations, stating that the foreign owner is not afraid to contribute to the business.
– We have not observed any actions on the part of the major shareholder that would indicate the implementation of some kind of “hidden agenda” aimed at deteriorating Nextbike’s situation. Thanks to the support of Nextbike GmbH The company invested 11 million PLN in 2019., there was an opportunity to provide Nextbike Polska SA. In addition to this trade receivable for Nextbike GmbH in the amount Approximately 15 million PLNthat are included in the ranking. No comprehensive commitment to save the company’s level 26 million PLN It should be seen as a great determination and commitment to support, and not any negative actions towards the company – he says.
He also maintains that the company is currently under close supervision, so it is not an option for the major shareholder to act at its expense. Nextbike is constantly implementing its remedial strategy. The current board of Nextbike, a company that has been in restructuring since 2020, is under the supervision of so many entities and so many entities are watching its hands – creditors, especially banks, and court watchers – that it is hard to believe such accusations, as they would also burden the Creditors, like and restructuring proceedings proceedings – he argues.
– The main negative financial and operational factors that caused the difficult situation of Nextbike arose during the times of the former members of the Board of Directors and the Supervisory Board (associated with the former majority shareholder of Nextbike Polska SA) – notes Wojtkiewicz.
He also says that the inability to implement the sanctions, if any, is caused by the actions of the previous administration. – The former Nextbike Board of Directors, with the approval of the Supervisory Board (the members of both bodies were persons related to the majority of the previous Nextbike shareholders), in 2019 entered into an agreement with Nextbike GmbH on the non-pursuit of contractual penalties – he said. He added that the company recently, after receiving signals that the agreement may be invalid, commissioned Polish and German law firms to conduct legal analyzes that showed that it was not possible to pursue possible sanctions, because the 2019 agreement legally excludes this.
No fines and only smaller bids
Wojtkiewicz also rejects the accusations of being denied a license, as well as of not participating in the Warsaw Bid. In his opinion, the license was withdrawn from the exclusivity because the Polish company was not able to pay its obligations.
– That is why, at the beginning of 2019 already. The supplier has the right to terminate the entire license. However, he did not do what should be considered a goodwill gesture – he rules. He asserts that there are opportunities to restore exclusivity when the financial position of the company improves. “It’s basically about getting project financing,” he says.
He notes that due to lack of funds, the company did not participate in the tender in Warsaw. – The bike-sharing market in Poland is based on the contract formula, where the contractor first finances the investments, and then receives its wages in installments for the duration of the contract. Thus, access to debt financing is an essential component of success in this industry. In the case of restructuring, this access turned out to be impossible – he says.
But he stresses that despite the difficult situation, The company does not want to collapse. – We implement many small projects, where lack of funding is not an obstacle. In the past two years, Nextbike Polska has independently won and executed larger contracts in the amount of more than PLN 100 million – he argues. However, the report shows that in the first half of 2022, the company recorded a net loss, although it decreased to PLN 2.6 million from PLN 2.9 million In the same period last year.
There is consent in one
The question arises to what extent small enterprises and the absence of an exclusive license can allow for the sustainable maintenance and development of the enterprise. It seemed that regardless of the perspective adopted, the path to its former glory would be very difficult. This means that shareholders who have held company assets for a long time are unlikely to make a huge profit.
Larq is concerned, but in the current situation, the current Nextbike chief is also looking at him with moderate hopes. The improvement in financial results should translate into an increase in the evaluation of the company’s quotation, which, however, is not directly affected by the company. We can not ignore the general sentiment in the stock market And on a larger scale in the economy, which is not positive. However, we believe Nextbike prices will grow in the long term, he summarizes.
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