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The comeback of Lars Windhorst

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Über Lars Windhorst kann man getrost streiten. Quelle: dpa

About Lars Windhorst can safely argue. Source: Reuters

BERLIN / LONDON. Magnificent crystal chandeliers flood the room with warm light. Modern art hangs on the walls, opulent, carefully arranged bouquets of flowers decorate the transition from the lounge into the dining room. In black and white-clad staff to keep a respectful distance. It is lunchtime in the City of London, and nobody comes into this exclusive private club, to eat too. Here, business is done, the big ones.

At a table in the middle of the hall, a man mid-30s, his back ramrod straight, his suit: Kiton, dark blue sitting tailor-made, and the black leather shoes: handmade. Lars Windhorst is here with two men, they are good 15 years older than him. One, a graying Koreans, is a wealthy private citizen. The other came from a South African billionaire family. They talk, they joke with each other. It looks as if they were his friends.

"I could be the greatest enemy of Lars," says one. They have entrusted the young money, so they’ve lost nine million euro, five years ago was. And a year ago, the boy has managed their joint company into bankruptcy. You have made him then to her partner.

Almost unnoticed, Windhorst has done in the past year some of his biggest deals. He has company back on track, even a DAX company out of a hole. And this year, he says, should be his. He has billions of transactions in the eye. It is one of the great mystery of how this is possible. Why not pull the two men in a London restaurant with a lot of money, lots of very good lawyers, and influence the young Germans before a court to get their money back, which would in such cases are not unusual.

If it were in Germany, one face of the crisis, it could be by Lars Windhorst. He stands for much that accuses the country for months, its bankers. Greed, intemperance, immoral actions. It may seem intransigent, incorrigible. With just 33 years, he looks back on half a dozen bankruptcies and criminal charges.

"What people want, then?" Windhorst says. "If I had to lie down and curl up to?" The eternal fastidiousness about the fact that he is wearing expensive tailored suits, his expensive office in Berlin with a view of the Reichstag, he does not understand all this. He works hard, succeeds, sometimes it just fails. He sees things.

The question is, how it manages to fail again after each crashing persuade people that he will make lots of money from her much more money?

Rob Hersov smiles. "I will be happy to answer." But he is too polite to discuss the business end before dinner. First of all, he recommends the fresh salmon, "simply exquisite."

So how, Mr. Hersov, is a billionaire son of Johannesburg, together with a school drop-out Ostwestfalen?

Michael Douglas war mal Geschäftspartner von Windhorst. Quelle: 
dpa

Michael Douglas was once a business partner of Windhorst. Source: Reuters

1. As a South African billionaire is calculated on Windhorst

"I met him ten years ago by Michael Douglas," says Hersov. The Hollywood star was one of Windhorst business partners. Windhorst is then no 25, the international computer trade, which he has reared with fourteen in the garage of his parents, he has given up. He has entered the royal discipline of economics, to where the big wheel is turned: the financial industry. He wants to belong to the great, moving billions.

Hersov is immediately impressed. This boy spoke broken English, yet he emanates an assertiveness and an enthusiasm, as it has also seen Hersov rare. Hersov was itself an investment banker. Only at Goldman Sachs, then at Morgan Stanley. He managed companies, bought them, sold them. He has played the game hundreds of times, he knows the rules, the tricks. But someone like Windhorst he has never seen. It sucks to advice, he makes every important contact two or three new ones. He is constantly on the go, hardly seems to sleep. Davos, Hong Kong, Moscow. It fits his lifestyle to which those whom he encountered everywhere. Windhorst flies in private jets, driving in limousines. Its deals are always spectacular.

In Saigon, for example, he wants to build a 200-meter high office tower, it is 1995, the Windhorst Tower. Simply because he like the idea. Today he finds himself absurd. The Tower was never built, and it is not the only project that fails. It happens, what Windhorst ever happen again. He is not plugged back, upping the ante.

Windhorst takes more money. It was only with banks, then with business associates, then with friends of business associates. In 2004, he reported for his corporate insolvency. He makes a bankruptcy. He can no longer pay by credit card, he did not even get a cell phone contract. He pulls back, he is no more interviews. Nevertheless, the media reporting extensively from the crash of a child prodigy who traveled the age of seventeen, with Chancellor Helmut Kohl to Asia.

It is the hour of the envious, who seek not only to conceal their malice. Compassion? Windhorst has not earned, say his former business partner.

The person who has probably the least compassion, is Ulrich Marseille. The Hamburg clinic operator is lank and equipped with great confidence. In 2001, he has borrowed Windhorst ten million euros for a business. Windhorst promised to repay the money in four months. Marseille looks back for years not a single euro. Windhorst owes its creditors a total of 80 million euros, at least, are the claims on which they sit. But Marseille is not the type who can hit each other over the ear. He seeks revenge. He shows Windhorst for fraud. When he realizes that Windhorst in 2006, two years after the bust, again making all over the world, big business, a website aimed Marseille. He released all the media reports in which Windhorst comes off badly, it can even translate into English. His website is called "Truth and Consequences".

Windhorst hat auch für Enttäuschungen gesorgt. Quelle: dpa

Windhorst has also provided for disappointment. Source: Reuters

2. One leaves his family to live with his business Windhorst

November 2009, in London’s billionaire club. The waiters serve the salmon on Hersovs table. Rob Hersov is spreading a thick, crisp white napkin over his knee and ended a small talk. "How is business?" We must have lunch. " Seok Ki Kim watched the show with an Asian reluctance, as he lives in general with that kind of calmness looking at how well they provide only a few hundred million personal wealth. He has also Windhorst familiar, even he has lost a lot of money. "For five million have become scarce 90000th I could be the greatest enemy of Lars. But I am his most loyal supporters." Actually, Kim has retired from the business world long ago. He has two young children. But a few weeks ago he moved from Hong Kong to London without his family. He says: "It will cause me great joy to see grow Lars. He reminds me a bit of myself when I was so young." For a moment it is not clear whether Windhorst should opt for a smile or a laugh. Kim’s words are an accolade, the confirmation that Windhorst goes with it, on Top Of The World. Among the masters of the roving around the world billions.

Kim is an idol, an inexhaustible source of financial education. Windhorst can recite his resume backwards and forwards. Ph.D. at Harvard Business School, with 29, with 30 head of Asian business at Bear Stearns. A year later, in 1989, establishing its own bank in Hong Kong. For ten years he dominated the business with new forms of investment in Indonesia. He is one of the most influential bankers in Asia.

Now he is part of a remarkable trio. Hersov and he gave Windhorst five years ago, little money on hand to see what he makes of it. So it began. Windhorst has exceeded all expectations. "Lars is a genius," says Hersov. Therefore, he makes decisions, which means hardly anyone in Germany.

A conference room at the airport Munster. It is summer 2005, and Bernd Fennel, owner of the mobile phone supplier Balda, Wants to sell his shares in the company. Balda-CEO Joachim Gut to introduce his company to interested investors. The door opens. Hersov occurs. At his side: Lars Windhorst. A moment later, standing on good and leaves the room. With Windhorst he will not cooperate.

Hersov goes after him, he makes it short. Windhorst led his German investment company Vatas. Either the deal, with Windhorst Good or not doing. Good relents.

What in the coming years, with Windhorst Balda hires, all parties verschlägt breath. Within months, he makes a battered mobile phone suppliers with an insider’s tip. The American Guy Wyser-Pratte buys large blocks of shares, including Michael Treichl with his fund Audley and former Premiere CEO Georg Kofler. The course is twelve euro reached. Then he collapses. In February 2008, the stock still is worth 2.50 euros. Wyser-Pratte loses his nerve, he sells. Treichl sells a part for less than one euro.

Balda is a good example of how to run Windhorst transactions since 2005. Only big success, then drama. Vatas end of 2007 has made approximately 250 million euro profit. Windhorst puts nothing back, he stays back, no old debts in order to have peace from his past in order to appease people like Ulrich Marseille. That would contradict his nature. Windhorst does not want peace, he wants more, much more. Be the best. Thus the catastrophe takes its course.

3. First he crashes the plane, then with his business

December 2007. Windhorst is sitting in the cockpit of a private jet, looking into the Kazakh night. A few hours before he celebrated Christmas with his family in Westphalia. After a stopover in Kazakhstan, he is on his way to Hong Kong in terms of crisis meeting Balda.

There he never arrived. No sooner has the Challenger lifted off, tears off the air, the plane tilts to the right. With 300 miles an hour on it suggests a wing breaks, the torn metal mountain rolls with hellish screams on the concrete. Windhorst is thrown from his seat, loses his right ear. The next moment he lies unconscious in the Kazakhstan snow. It is 14 degrees below zero.

Ten days later his driver is waiting at London’s Heathrow Airport on him. It rises a mummy in the car, his head bandaged, no more teeth. Windhorst can barely speak. But one sees the driver: "To the office work. I must."

It takes advantage of him. The next few months are the worst, Windhorst professionally experienced. The markets are plunging, the shares lose their value rapidly. For Windhorst is a particular problem because it finances its operations with shares and stock options. When he ran out of money, it attracts business into the abyss. What’s he doing?

He is himself Full risk. He promises new and old investors surefire business. "For me buying shares, and in a few months, I buy it back for a higher price. Zero risk." It is a desperate attempt to make their own use without a profit.

The business can only work if prices rise. But they are plunging. Mid-2008, Windhorst can not pay its customers, only to put off. Then the bank will freeze its accounts. He sits on a mountain of debt, more than 200 million euros. Early 2009 reports on Windhorst company Vatas insolvency. Some business partners complain that in the pleadings of their lawyers back to crime is discussed. Insider trading, price manipulation, fraudulent insolvencies.

Rob Hersov pulls no sign when you address him on those days. "You know what was happening at that time in the markets. Yes, we have been caught off guard. But who is not?" Hersov takes another sip of red wine. Then he leans over the table. "Do not now look more like that. But the man there on your right at the corner table?" Three years ago, was estimated at six billion. And now? "Maybe one." So it was flat. Times you win, sometimes you lose. So calm can not and will not see all who have lost money, with Windhorst. Finally, Windhorst is not easy in the stock market crashed. He has broken treaties. He paid his debt did not decrease, although he probably would long since. Some complain that now against him to smell even a long-planned fraud.

4. Some complain, but from some enemy will suddenly a friend

The American financial investor buys Alki Capital, for example, from April 2007 on the basis of an agreement with Windhorst, a large number of shares of U.S. company Remote MDx. Windhorst firm, they will assume with supplement. Also NordLB acquired in agreement with Windhorst barely traded securities – and is doing so for 116 million U.S. dollars. The stock is up from $ 1.50 to more than four U.S. dollars. Business Friends of Windhorst and Hersov should have according to the application of Alki between sold. But when Alcibiades tries to return the shares to the contract Windhorst firm can not pay.

Today, the price of RemoteMDx at ten cents. Both alkynes and NordLB claim damages. On Wednesday of last week, a court has vindicated NordLB in the first instance. You should get one million damages. Windhorst will go to appeal.

In fact, the debt has probably not spread quite as straightforward as it would like the applicants.

Alki disturbed at the store until it went wrong. And NordLB? Connoisseur of the case feel the behavior of Landesbank as hypocritical. For years they made millions in profits, with Windhorst deals. Insiders tell of dozens of transactions, and nine-digit sums. In the boardroom of the Bank Windhorst was a popular guest, he gave the bankers contacts with billionaire clients. Nevertheless, questions remain. What exactly happens when a company dedicated Windhorst? It generates an artificial demand, if he anschleppt one large shareholder after the other? Always have to lose some, to attract the other? Windhorst his playing partners off against each other?

Nonsense, says Windhorst. Every investor to adjust his own decision. He could possibly give advice.

This advice is the reason why a business partner to leave him for her family, like Kim and the others sued him. Windhorst divides the world into friend and foe. Anyone who is not on his side, stands on the other. Even if he does not have to stay there forever.

Georg Kofler, the multi-millionaire, for example, has listened to Windhorst. For a while it looked as if it cost a lot of money. As the shares of the mobile phone supplier Balda fell into a bottomless pit, several major investors sold their shares – they lost tens of millions. Kofler said, however, with Windhorst and bought by, when the stock sold at 50 cents. Today, it is worth 3.50 euros, and Kofler has recently become shareholders of the joint company of Hersov, Kim and Windhorst.

Even Ulrich Marseille, the hospital operator, was a business friend. He lost money. Then he chased Windhorst nine years. Sued him, denounced him in public. A Berlin court has ruled that Windhorst has to go to jail if he does not repay the money Marseille. He won. That’s what Windhorst world.

The action was Marseille’s victory. He no longer stands as one here who can show up with someone who could be his son. In September, he was a guest at Windhorst wedding. Quite possibly, both say that they sometimes do business again with each other.

How is this possible?

The billionaire Rob Hersov scrutinizes Windhorst. The salmon is eaten, they have arrived at the espresso. Hersov says: "I see every day, what makes Lars. Nobody in this business working as hard as he does, and I know my way." Perhaps he understood best use Windhorst talent, without taking a unmanageable risk. Perhaps you have to have as much money as he, to get away with this vision of things to be. "If I were convinced that I can do with Lars no longer than a few million, then I would have passed me long ago," says Hersov. "But we’re talking about real money."

5. How Windhorst auftreibt in one day 200 million euros

Munich, March 2009. The chip manufacturer Infineon need money quickly, it’s all or nothing. A capital increase? Indisputable At 35 cents per share. Loans? Impossible. Infineon endeavoring to find a convertible bond, a bank after another beckons. Then Windhorst calls. He had an idea.

He needs a day to get pledged 200 million euros from investors. It is what not even the managers of large corporations can take. Bonds are typically handled through the competent departments of investment banks. Projects are expected to counter-checked, sent to asset managers. At some point, often weeks later, will set an appointment.

Air Berlin hat eng mit Windhorst zusammengearbeitet. Quelle: dpa

Air Berlin has been working closely with Windhorst. Source: Reuters

But it never works Windhorst. He turns directly to the boss. When in doubt, he was about to eat with him. Dirk Notheis, Germany boss Morgan StanleyVisited Windhorst after the plane crash in the hospital. The Saudi billionaire family Bahamdan Windhorst is a close friend. He has excellent contacts with Dermot Desmond, one of the richest men in Ireland. A DAX board is amazed: "I do not know anyone in Germany who would have similar access to investors." It is an important part of the system Windhorst.

6. Lightning visit to a mansion in Beirut: Windhorst is back with a good deal

August 2009. Windhorst, the airline Air Berlin proposed a new loan. It is a complicated deal. Air Berlin to redeem an old bond, to print a new one. He needs quick buyer for the old loan. He picks up the phone.

"Who are you? What do you want?" The man at the other end, a fund administrator, Lord over four billion euros, is sitting in a villa in Lebanon. Whom he does not know with whom he does not speak.

"I must talk with you," says Windhorst undeterred. "Absolutely!"

"What?" No. "No, I am not in the office. No, not tomorrow. I’m on vacation. What? That still does not matter. No, I’m not around. I’m in Beirut."

The next morning, Windhorst is in the villa of the fund manager. "I have half an hour," says the landlord.

Four hours later, he has his old loan to Air Berlin sold and purchased new. 25 million euros, more was not possible. As increases Windhorst in his limousine is the man stunned. He will remember it, this Windhorst. That is the difference between Germany and the rest of the world. Some see the failures, the other successful deals. At home, Windhorst especially as imposters. The financial managers abroad see him as a genius, which increases their money.

7. Windhorst drink to success. In his empty office seizes him a longing

Lars Windhorst If you ask him what is his happiness, he says, days like those to whom he has convinced the Lebanese from his Air Berlin deal. They are the reason why he often gets up morning four clock, half an hour of yoga makes jogs 40 minutes. Yoga sharpens his ability to concentrate, keep running the cycle to speed. Everything is subordinated to a goal. The hunt for the perfect deal. What serves this goal, he uses. What distracts, he hides. The view from the back draws, including brooding over the failure.

It’s time again one evening at his table at Harry’s Bar, before Windhorst is a glass of Bellini, champagne with fresh squeezed peach juice. The room is vibrating from the lively discussions of powerful, wealthy men. Occasionally Windhorst nods to a guest. No doubt, he belongs here. He raises his glass. At 2009. A magnificent year. At Infineon He has assured its investors 65 million euros of the bonds, which have sold most of them long ago – with a hundred percent profit. At Air Berlin He has arranged the entire new loan – 125 million euros. Who cares more that his company is Vatas pleitegegangen?

Berlin, Friedrichstraße 16 Floor, Windhorst German office. They are the same spaces as before 27 January 2009, before the Vartas bankruptcy. Windhorst on the same desk stands Bloomberg terminal. He has the same phenomenal view of the Reichstag. And yet it seems as if there had never been Vatas. Down on the door now stands Sapinda, which was the parent of Vatas. Windhorst has rented new premises, there are now almost 700 square meters.

The office is an example that explains why many as a megalomaniac Windhorst appear. The lobby would redound to the glory of a major bank. The long corridors are in almost total silence. The furnished offices are deserted. Even his driver has a desk. Okay, Windhorst says, "the office has got something big." But his company is to grow, yes. The 7000, 8000 euro monthly rent anymore? Peanuts.

Peanuts? He still owes former business associates six-figure sums. He pays nothing back, he invites her to dinner and chauffeured her in a new, expensive sedan around a hundred thousand euros. He says he does not understand it, this endless criticism. "I’m working all day, I still move a little." He glances at his desk, the invitations, studies, the new projects. Midst of a handwritten birthday card is a bank chiefs: "Dear Lars?" So it is with the recognition. It’s one of those moments in recent months, in which Lars Windhorst has thoughtfully. Yes, he says, sometimes he wished for more recognition. Yes, even the normal people in Germany. But he suspects that it will probably maintain that it kind eighth, living in his world. He also looks at Berlin, his driver waiting downstairs. "This style is very common in my world," says Windhorst. He was finally no stand vendors.