BERLIN: Japan's Softbank is to invest 900 million euros (US$1 billion) in beleaguered German financial technology firm Wirecard, or a stake of about 5.6 per cent, Wirecard announced Wednesday (Apr 24).
Wirecard, which specialises in payment processing, also announced the signing of a strategic partnership with Softbank, a technology and investment giant, to accelerate its development in Japan and South Korea.
"Through this potential partnership, we will expand our reach and products to the East Asian markets, thereby further strengthening our position in Asia," chief executive Markus Braun said in a statement.
The firms will collaborate on "digital payments, data analytics/AI and other innovative digital financial services," Wirecard said.
In financial terms, the deal will see Softbank buy bonds convertible into 6.9 million shares in Wirecard at 130 euros per share - slightly higher than the Munich-based firm's closing share price in Frankfurt Tuesday of 123.50 euros.
Backing from the Japanese giant is the second April boost for Wirecard, the rising star of Germany's finance sector that was shaken earlier this year by a series of Financial Times articles accusing it of making false accounting entries in the Asian region.
German market supervisor Bafin announced earlier this month it had filed charges with Munich prosecutors against a number of suspects "on suspicion of market manipulation in the form of a short attack on shares of Wirecard AG".
The watchdog had launched its investigation after the group's stock market value had been slashed by nine billion euros in reaction to the reports.
At the same time, it issued a temporary ban on negative speculation - so-called short-selling - on Wirecard.
The Munich-based firm itself commissioned an internal probe by Singaporean law firm Rajah & Tann, which said last month they did not find any "inaccuracies with material impact on the financial reports".
The Rajah & Tann report released by Wirecard found no "criminal liability" in the firm's head office but said "some local employees" could be held criminally responsible under Singapore law.
A local police investigation is ongoing in the city-state.
Wirecard was hailed as an early success story on the fintech scene when it started in 1999, providing electronic payment services, a niche then ignored by major German banks.
The company expanded with the boom of online commerce, ensuring the settlement of transactions to help professional customers such as airlines and online pharmacies.