UniCredit banker moonlighted for Markus Braun’s family office
A senior investment banker at UniCredit was moonlighting as a highly paid financial advisor to Markus Braun’s family office until just before the Wirecard collapse, entitling her to around € 800,000 in payment from the bank. disgraced former CEO of the German group.
Jana Hecker, former banker at Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, joined UniCredit as Global Head of Equity Capital Markets in March 2020. In the three months since Wirecard’s bankruptcy last June, she has spent more than 150 hours working for Braun in a private capacity, according to documents reviewed by the Financial Times. Between February and May 2020, she advised Braun on the refinancing of 110 million euros in loans that Deutsche Bank wanted to terminate.
Charging a daily rate of € 5,000 and a success payment, Hecker interacted with Wall Street banks and private equity firms on Braun’s behalf. Eventually, she negotiated two loans with small german lender Oldenburgische Landesbank (OLB) and an investment fund controlled by German entrepreneur Oliver Samwer, CEO of Rocket Internet.
Hecker had previously worked with Braun in his previous role at Deutsche Bank. She started working on the then billionaire’s refinancing project at the end of February 2020, just days before starting her new job at the Italian lender, where she is in charge of origination and contract execution activities. global fellows.
UniCredit and Hecker declined to comment.
Braun had been in the throes of serious financial trouble since late 2019, when Deutsche Bank told its long-time client that it wanted to end a € 150 million margin loan facility that had been put in place two years earlier. The managing director, who was Wirecard’s largest shareholder, had pledged half of his 7 percent stake as collateral. Germany’s largest lender severed the loan after the Financial Times raised serious allegations of fraudulent accounting in 2019, triggering a special audit of Wirecard’s financial reports by KPMG.
Documents show that in January 2020, Braun faced the impending forced sale of part of his promised shares to Deutsche Bank because he was unable to provide enough money to the lender. In a last minute decision, he took a unsecured loan of 35 million euros of Wirecard Bank, which was paid before the group’s supervisory board was informed of the transaction.
Wirecard’s supervisory board forced Braun to repay the loan, which carried an annual interest rate of 12.55%, by the end of March, putting him under enormous pressure to find permanent refinancing. Braun turned to Hecker, who during his time at Deutsche Bank had helped set up the original margin loan.
After the successful refinancing, on June 1 last year, Hecker told Braun’s sister Marlies Braun in an email that “it has been a great pleasure to work so closely with you and your brother and you. support regarding the refinancing of [MB Beteiligungsgesellschaft]”- Braun’s family office.
Hecker sent a detailed summary of his work for the family office since late February, detailing 156.5 hours of work, of which over 97% was performed between March and May.
“I have gladly used my expertise and my knowledge of the market as well as my network and my reputation to refinance your inherited loans,” she told Marlies Braun. She added that the refinancing environment had been difficult, due to market volatility during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and “market perceptions of the KPMG report findings”.
The devastating special audit of accounting firm Big Four, which was released at the end of April, could not prove the existence of much of Wirecard’s Asian business and billions of cash. Wirecard shares fell 31 percent on the day the results of the audit have been published.
In the June 1 email, Hecker outlined his contractual agreement with the family office which entitles him to approximately € 100,000 fixed salary and a performance bonus of between € 510,000 and € 870,000.
“I am convinced that I have been able to bring significant added value”, she wrote, asking Marlies Braun to make a concrete proposal for her remuneration. “We can agree to longer-term compensation that aligns our mutual interests, for example in the form of a participation in the price gains of the Wirecard share which have been secured by the refinancing,” she said. added.
In a subsequent email to her brother on June 3, Marlies Braun suggested paying Hecker around € 790,000 for the work done. “Ideally, let’s discuss it calmly over the weekend,” she told him.
Two people familiar with the details told the FT that “not a single penny” had ever been paid to Hecker as Wirecard collapsed weeks later.
Braun lost his job at Wirecard and was later arrested by Munich police as his lenders pressed to sell his shares in a desperate attempt to reduce their exposure to the payments company as it imploded.
Braun, who has been in police custody since last summer, is accused by prosecutors in Munich of being the linchpin of a criminal racketeering that has led to “frauds by the billions”. He denies any wrongdoing.
A lawyer representing Markus Braun and Marlies Braun declined to comment on Hecker’s advisory work.