Deal with the Devil Comes Due

Unister founder Thomas Wagner-Christoph Busse-WirtschaftsWoche
Some say Unister founder Thomas Wagner is playing a waiting game.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    If the loans can’t be resolved, fast-growing HanseMerkur could end up taking over a troubled business it really doesn’t want.

  • Facts


    • HanseMerkur tripled revenues over the past 10 years, in part under the leadership of former marketing director Peter Ludwig.
    • Sources say Mr. Ludwig was also behind at least €40 million in loans by the insurer to scandal-plagued Unister Travel.
    • In early 2014, the public prosecutor in Dresden brought charges against Unister chief executive Thomas Wagner, including tax evasion and the sale of unauthorized insurance products.
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Last week, time-honored Hamburg insurer HanseMerkur posted a brief message on its website: High-level manager Peter Ludwig “left the company today,” it announced.

There was no explanation as to why and none of the customary language on company departures: He wasn’t leaving “for personal reasons” or “to pursue new professional challenges,” the message said.

Since then, the insurance industry has been wondering what happened.

The insurer would not comment, and Handelsblatt has been unable to reach Mr. Ludwig.

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