“It has not lost any of its charisma”

Like last year, Borussia Dortmund GmbH & Co. KGaA’s Annual General Meeting was held virtually.

Borussia Dortmund’s economic development has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the sound barrier was broken in sponsorship. BVB expects “a better result, but no turnaround yet” for the current financial year. Like last year, Borussia Dortmund GmbH & Co. KGaA’s Annual General Meeting was held virtually. 

In his report, Hans-Joachim Watzke focused on Borussia Dortmund’s strategic orientation in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, “which has had a massive impact on us over the past two years and has led to our business model no longer functioning to its full extent.” It has led to losses of 43 and 72 million euros in the past two years respectively. Having said that, he also states that the club has “not lost any of its charisma. For the first time, we have surpassed the 100-million-euro mark in sponsoring, and we’re approaching 125 million in the current business year.” The CEO announced further investments into digital infrastructure.

Touching on the measures to contain the pandemic discussed at the Ministerial Conference at the same time, Watzke said, “We recognise the primacy of politics. The Bundesliga is ready to compromise and is responsible-minded.” He also said that as a “token to society,” we’ll have to live with the reduction to stadium capacities. He continued, saying that the league isn’t a driver of infection, however, neither in the stadium, nor en route, especially since a five-digit number of parking spaces are available in Dortmund. His appeal “to moderation” was to “not let populism” take hold.

“Sustainability” remains at the forefront of economic considerations. “We want to be climate neutral in the future,” announced Watzke, who staved off criticism for the fact that BVB did not put its employees on short-time work during the pandemic: “Borussia Dortmund is a way of life and not an orientation towards short-term economic profit considerations. With us, everyone can rely on everyone.”

In sporting terms, he believes the club is “not just ambitious, but also able to win titles,”yet also that people should not continue to be driven by expectations. “The limit of ambition, and of sporting ambition, begins with economic irrationality!”

The DFB Cup victory in the summer of 2021 was the fifth largest success since 2011 (Title), 2012 (the “Double”), and 2017 (Cup). In the current Bundesliga season, despite “huge injury worries, we have 30 points from 13 games. That’s exceptionally good!” – as is 17 wins from the last 20 games! The CEO also described the recent exit from the lucrative UEFA Champions League as a “big disappointment. But we have turned disappointment into positive energy before.” Watzke urged the team and coach “to go as far as possible in the Europa League. It’s the only title that Borussia Dortmund has still not won. We shouldn’t complain that we have lost 13 million euros, but try to earn those 13 million euros back.” According to managing director Thomas Treß, a place in the final would bring revenues of around 17 million euros.

In his report, Treß put the earnings performance from the press conference on annual results on 9 August 2021 forward, and went through the figures in detail. An interesting detail is that the additional medical expenses due to the corona measures totalled €2.1 million. As of the reporting date on 30 June 2021, by shares, the limited partnership displayed financial liabilities to the tune of €56.9 million. These were reduced to “zero” thanks to the capital increase. Thomas Treß: “We used authorised capital to make Borussia Dortmund weatherproof, and to eradicate the damage caused by corona.” Regarding the resolution on the creation of the new authorised capital, which is due later on the agenda, he said: “It belongs in the toolbox of a listed company to strengthen its equity, should this be necessary.” For the current business year, Treß expects “a better result, but no turnaround yet.”

In the general debate that followed, managing directors Hans-Joachim Watzke, Thomas Treß, and Carsten Cramer answered 130 questions from the shareholders and the shareholders’ representatives. As was carried out last year, Christian Kullmann, who was elected as the Chairman of the Supervisory Board this year, led the meeting. Kullmann thanked his predecessor emphatically “for his great personal commitment.” Gerd Pieper resigned from the Supervisory Board in September for health reasons. Kullmann: “We wish Gerd Pieper all the very best.”

Dr. Bernhard Pellens, Professor of International Corporate Accounting, as well as Scientific Director for the Institute of Corporate Management (ifu) at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, was also newly elected to the board with a backing of 86%. “As a person of numbers, I can’t help BVB in sporting terms. However, due to my various skills and my many years of practical work, I can support them in complying with the ever-stricter corporate governance requirements.”

The other motions, including the presentation of the annual financial statements, were approved with more than 99% of the votes; 95.6% voted in favour of the “authorised capital” resolution.
Boris Rupert

Video: Hans-Joachim Watzke’s speech, BVB CEO

Video: BVB Managing Director Thomas Treß’s comments

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