Wednesday , March 29 2023

Benko vs Dichand: Poker for the "crown"


It was last Friday at Park Hyatt am Hof ​​in Vienna, when René Benko – his friend Christoph Dichand – in the opinion of Dichand's friends – "put the blow in the heart."

Owner Signa and Benko's real estate magnate had invited the fresh Dichand junior to lunch at his luxury hotel and said, "I bought a 49% stake in the WAZ stake in the choir yesterday." You should be happy because everything will be much easier in the future. "

But Christoph Dichand was not amused. According to a confident, he reacted from this opening only with "silence of ice."

The business between Dichand and WAZ has failed

No wonder: Benko just made the biggest defeat of his life to Dichand. For 15 years, the Dichand family strives to buy in France the 50% share of WAZ, which the Germans have accumulated about 30 years ago for expensive money. For seven years, Crown Founder Hans Dichand struggled to get his crown again at 100%.

After his father's death, whom he had promised to "never sell the crown," his son Christoph desperately tried to redeem the 50% stake of the Germans.

In the midst of the fabulous 140 (!) Reciprocal processes, and, most importantly, arbitration, Dichand made more than a dozen attempts to buy the 50% of the crown.

But between his desire to buy 50 million euros and the WAZ requirement of 150 million were worlds.

Meanwhile, Dichand was able to enjoy a consolation that was negotiated by his father's lawyers: Dichanzans have an excellent crown contract, which means they can change and act the way they want. They determine the editorial line of the crown itself – as editor and chief executive. They have staff and budgeting skills in the editorial department, and at the same time can block all publishing decisions that would lead to savings or efficiency efforts. In short: Dichanzans govern the crown, which WAZ can pay.

As the contracts culminate, the Dichand family, in addition to an incredible salary for Christoph (one of which is 1.5 million euros), also has the right to an advance advance of ten million a year. WAZ also has to pay them if Mediaprint wins less than the 40 million needed – which happened on a regular basis.

No wonder the Germans had only one purpose for years: "Get out of this wretched country!"

First of all, they tried through arbitration, the fabulous contract for Dichand canceled repeatedly – always in vain. Dichand won the series and became stronger with each arbitral verdict.

Then WAZ, who came under pressure in Germany, tried to sell Krone unemployment: from Springer to Ringier, from local publishers to an interesting trio for Grossnigg-Konrad-Haselsteiner investors, the 50% Krone share was more by a dozen Time offered.

But everything said because about the acquisition of WAZ shares a huge sword of Damocles floating: Dichand family has WAZ shares in their "crown" an inauspicious right of first refusal. Anyone – except Dichand – buys WAZ shares in the crown, must expect to lose them again in court, with high probability again.

Thus, WAZ returned to Dichand as buyer in September – with a compromise as a price offer: 80 million for 50% of the crown.

At the same time, the owner of the Raiffeisen courier was brought on board: because Raiffeisen's 40 million should receive the 49% stake in the WAZ and at the same time finance the $ 80 million loan purchase. Raiffeisen-Dichand, which had been previously in the mediaprint, was created and Raiffeisen won a jackpot: the entire 100% of the 40 million courier and the old Mediaprint contracts for Raiffeisen, according to which Dichand das Raiffeisen has to pay 25% all Mediaprint profits (ie Krone).

In mid-October, the median "trio" agreed: Raiffeisen buys Kurier shares with 40 million, Dichand buys 50% of Krone with 80 million. Raiffeisen offers this amount as a loan. But the crown heir would be super smart and the price once again 50 million "down poker". To promote this poker, he sent WAZ a new case of arbitration – probably hoping to shoot him. But Dichand misjudged this moment.

When WAZ received the new Ditching expulsion from the company in the middle of a meeting of the Spark Supervisory Board, emotions grew so much that the heirs Spark decided to cheat Dichand. Her decision: "Stop selling Dichand!"

While Dichand, believing he had already WAZ shares in his pocket, went to Los Angeles for a two-week vacation (!) In mid-October with his wife Eva, his friend René Benko came into play.

The Benko couple and the Dichand couple combine a long-lasting friendship. They went on holiday together in Nobel Benko's cottage in Lech and often spoke about the crown.

Benko, of course, has never been interested in the crown, has invested wildly in the real estate, bought Karstadt and Kaufhof in Germany, bought Kika / Leiner from us and wanted to become the "King of Commerce."

Only this summer was a consultant advised that WAZ wants to sell its crown share necessarily to those who are the top 80 million people on the table.

The consultant also offered Benko the model of how to buy: Dichands' first denying right should be circumvented by Benko, acquiring only a 49% stake in WAZ Austria Holding, which owns the Krone and Kurier shares. % Minority without influence and involved as a pure financial investor. Thus, the WAZ would, in principle, retain Krone's 50% cancellation and not breach the Dichands' first refusal. Of course, the counselor has warned since the first second: "The Dichandas will complain, threaten a trial for years if you can not reach a quick agreement. And without understanding, you are a crooked duck duck, you can do nothing, no longer appear, otherwise you go to the open tear knife.

Benko was initially oblivious to the business, because the risk seemed too big, but then hell, not only commercially, but also the media king, but he was stronger. Benko registered with WAZ, put 80 million on the table and negotiated while Dichand in the US, a minority agreement at the end of October, in which WAZ (against their will) continues its 50% crown all processes , all business decisions, councils, executive directors must manage on their own. Until poker is won.

In fact, René Benko is now playing € 80 million in casino media – and has three game options:

Play 1: Jackpot

Benko's goal is for sure to buy Christoph Dichand from the crown as soon as possible. For this, Benko has already offered an amazing 200 million to fund his business, which will go directly to the Dichand family – Christoph, his brother Snoopy, sister Johanna and mother. Many insiders believe that Dichands à la longue can not resist such a bid – especially if Benko desperately needs to deal with the deal soon enough to reach 300 or even 400 million because Dichand believes that each bid is "too low ". will refuse. But: Especially Dichand's wife, Eva believes Krone's sale is worthy of discussion, because, in her opinion, "printing in a few years is dead anyway." But it is against the rest of the family and her own husband.

Because Christoph Dichand points out that he does not want to sell the crown in any case. As a promise to his father. As a commitment to family and readers. But also because the crown is his life and his right to exist. Without a crown there is nothing.

If Benko manages to buy Dichands, he is the big winner – then his casino poker raises, he can immediately access 50% of WAZ (for which he probably has an option) and is with Dichand 100% crown leader. This is his purpose.

Game Variant 2: The duration of poker

If Dichand's acquisition fails, Benko will try to avoid Dichand's trial against WAZ. This means: Benko will offer Dichand – if necessary – a 50:50 cooperation, after which Benko will have the right to take over the entire 50% stake in WAZ and in the future the crown will be run with Dichand. But that will be difficult …

Christoph Dichand is in a great crown poker situation: he has all the aces in his hand – the right of first refusal, the advance in advance, all the rights in the newspaper. A Dichand confessor: "He would be upset if he shared this with Benko or would have renounced the contractual benefits – even after Benko had cheated on it."

Benko should therefore probably improve the already ingenious contracts for Dichand so that Dichand leaves him in the crown. For Benko, which would be a horror – then he would be helpless in Beiwagerl, he would suffer even more humiliation, blockades, defeats than WAZ.

Game variant 3: Rien will make a difference

The only logical step for Christoph Dichand is probably what his lawyers now advise: he must sue WAZ for expulsion from the crown.

According to Dichand, the situation is clear: Dichand has the unconditional right to refuse, first of all, 50% of WAZ. He can sue the Court of Arbitration for the Crown of Zurich as soon as he sees it broken. Dichand's lawyers, headed by Huberta Gheneff, consider that even the sale of minority shares by WAZ (as now by 49% of Benko's 50%) constitutes a violation of the right of first refusal, especially if this minority option with option or associated with participation rights.

Dichand lawyers are already enjoying the first press release of the new alliance, WAZ-Benko, which speaks of a "partnership" which, in their view, is the first violation of the right of first refusal.

However, Dichand Junior is legal – in the opinion of all the experts – in a winning situation after this terrible moral defeat against Benko. A top Viennese lawyer: "What will happen to him?" Once he complained to the arbitral tribunal to exclude WAZ from Krone. If he lost and sees the Benko court just as a financial investor, Benko is cemented in a 49% position and he does not have to make one more mistake, above all, never to be active in the crown. If he wins, WAZ has to give up all his actions from him at nominal – he would be a god. "

Insiders believe that WAZ will receive less than ten million euros for their actions, and Benko will lose the entire amount of 80 million euros. A dispute over at least two years, perhaps up to five years, threatens to corrupt the crown even more than he has done so far.

Because slowly, but surely the crown is under the sea in digitization like the Titanic and in legal litigation.

Benko, therefore, wants the crown to have 100% and has calculations that can lead the crown's profit through rigorous austerity programs and price increases for subscriptions to 120 million, which he would also collect if he the same time the courier through Kika austerity programs from deficit to "zero zero" would slip. With a successful digital business, it would be possible to generate up to 200 million profits and almost double the turnover in a few years. So the goal.

Ultimately, Benko wants to win with the crown, but especially with the political and economic influence in Austria.

Benko is currently close to federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and ÖVP.

In Vienna, Benko supports the new Mayor Ludwig, his supervisory board being headed by former SPO President Gusenbauer.

Very cold is Benko's relationship with the FPÖ, who will therefore stand in the future fight for the crown clearly on Dichand's side.

As a result, Chancellor Kurz, as he learned from the whole business as Dichand and Raiffeisen only after the fact, should be a bit "amused" by Benko, probably now years of poker wreath.

Short was crowned with children's gloves so far. The fear of the short camp is therefore justified: if Dichand personally takes personal Kurz's friendship with Benko and suspects briefly that he is involved in taking over the enemy, the crown's willingness to the chancellor could very soon change. What short does not need.

Benko himself celebrated his crown entrance in the midst of the entire political and business society in Vienna at the traditional Törggelen party with chestnuts and bacon.

But his favorite guests so far, Christoph and Eva Dichand, have remained demonstrative away from the event, which they have never lost. A clear sign: from now on, war is getting worse.

But Benko wants to avoid this war in any case. A few days ago he told his friends: "The case will be resolved by Christmas!" Of course he did not call the year …

How did Benko buy?

  • According to insiders, Benko bought the following: For 80 million euros, he bought 49% of the 50% stake in the Funke group ("WAZ") in "Kronen Zeitung" and probably the entire 49% it stops.

  • For another 200 million, Benko wants to buy Dichand completely.

  • And for 50 million he wants to buy Raiffeisen shares in the courier (51%). Dichand and Raiffeisen do not want to sell.

"Who's Who" came to Benko's Törggelen – not only Dichand

What touches seems to be gold. For business, René Benko (41) has always had a talent and is well connected. This was demonstrated this week at its traditional "Törggelen" in South Tyrol – at the Nobel-Hotel Park Hyatt. That evening, his guests were represented by federal and vice-chancellors, ministers, deputies, business leaders, artists and celebrities of society, for whom the host and his wife, Nathalie, took time.

Benko will do his job until Christmas before he and his family retire to their well-deserved holiday in the 38-million-dollar Chalet N of Oberlech for skiing. He will especially enjoy his expiration time as he celebrates his tenth anniversary with Nathalie this year.

René Benko's interview with Dominic Heinzl showed he did not lose his humor despite the stress. When asked if he played six times in the lottery in the jackpot, he replied: "Do not play the lottery, but if I did, I would make a six with an extra number. I'm known for making the impossible possible" . You will see today's interview at 19.45 in Heinzl and ATV VIPs.

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