Out of Fuel

Questions Surround German Pellets Bankrupcy

German Pellets Wismar factory Source Bernd Wüstneck dpa
Questions loom large over German Pellets.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Peter Leibold, the owner of a German fuel pellet producer, moved funds out of his firm shortly before it went bankrupt. Now investors want to know what happened to their money, while employees fret about their jobs.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • German Pellets filed for bankruptcy on February 10.
    • Mr. Leibold acquired a coal-fired power plant in Belgium, which has already changed hands since then and is now owned by a letterbox company in Vienna.
    • The acquisition of the Belgian power plant and two pellet plants in the United States were apparently part of a concerted effort to move funds out of German Pellets and make them inaccessible to the bankruptcy administrator.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Peter Leibold left behind all of €5,000 ($5,500) when his fuel empire, German Pellets, filed for bankruptcy two weeks ago. But by last Tuesday, Mr. Leibold emerged as a major investor in a coal-fired power plant.

Speaking to the employees of power company’s E.ON’s former Langerlo power plant in the eastern Belgian city of Genk, he unveiled a massive project, saying that he intended to spend a triple-digit-million sum to convert the 560-megawatt power plant into a biomass power plant.

He also said he would have the necessary funds available by the end of March. It is latest development in a bankruptcy story full of bizarre twists and turns.

German Pellets filed for bankruptcy on February 10, putting 650 employees on tenterhooks about the future of their jobs. Some 17,000 investors, worried about the €270 million they have invested in German Pellets bonds and participation rights, have since learned that a large portion of their money passed through a foundation and ended up as equity capital at two manufacturing companies in the United States.

Because these companies are not affiliated with German Pellets, the money is no longer accessible, at least for the time being.

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