General Meeting

Shareholders and management pulling together in times of Coronavirus

Today's Annual General Meeting of Borussia Dortmund GmbH & Co. KGaA for the financial year 2019/20 ended with an extraordinarily high approval for the course set by the management team. Judith Dommermuth becomes the second woman to join the supervisory board.

Against the background of the global spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, the Annual General Meeting took place with virtually no physical presence of the limited liability shareholders in a specially built studio in Signal Iduna Park. The meeting was led by Christian Kullmann. The deputy chairman of the supervisory board stood in for Gerd Pieper, who was ill.

"We were on a stable growth path until the beginning of March," said Hans-Joachim Watzke about the 2019/20 financial year (1.7.19 to 30.6.20). This was evident solely from the fact that "we maintained the total sales up to 30.6, despite the fact that we had to go without major revenue pillars for four months." Group revenues remained almost constant for the financial year at €370.2 million (previous year: €370.3 million). "60,000 less sounds like nothing at all," commented Thomas Treß, taking a look at the details: "In the first three quarters, growth amounted to 6.3 percent. In the fourth quarter, however, we lost 25% of our sales revenues due to Covid. This reduced the profit for the financial year ad absurdum." The consolidated profit shows a shortfall of €43.9 million. These and other figures had already been published at  the press conference on  the financial statements  in mid-August.

"There were no blueprints for what we experienced from March onwards," said Watzke. From mid-May, the "ghost games" behind closed doors at least gave the Bundesliga clubs "access to existential sources of income", namely the TV fees. However, BVB posted €6.9 million less than forecast in the original budget. In addition, every game without fans in the stadium costs the club "four million euros in direct and indirect revenues," said Watzke: "With over 20 home games a season, you can work out how much of a loss that is."

In his speech, broadcast to shareholders online, the chairman of the board emphasised that Borussia Dortmund did not pass on the costs and loss of income caused by the pandemic, but rather had taken on the burden itself and had not forced the more than 800 employees into short-time work. "To this day, we have never claimed state aid and thus never claimed privileges. As the lowest common denominator, however, we have to keep going with these games behind closed doors. We need them to survive." At the same time, the situation with games without spectators remains tense. Watzke expects a significant loss for the current financial year due to these losses. If at least 20% of potential fans were not admitted into the stadium in the second half of the season, this expected loss would increase further. "Thanks to the solid management in the past, however, we have sufficient liquidity." Watzke also announced talks with the professional squad to extend the agreed salary waiver beyond 31 December.

Borussia Dortmund recorded revenue increases in sponsorship and merchandising. Watzke named the "creative contract with 1&1 and Evonik, the extension of the contract with PUMA, and Adesso as the new partner for the youth" as examples of this. According to CFO Thomas Treß, virtual perimeter advertising has increased by 72 percent. The kit sponsorship and the new contract with the kit supplier "brings us €20 million per annum".

Watzke and Treß believe Borussia Dortmund to be well positioned for the future. "Necessity is the mother of invention," said Treß. "The pandemic will push us forward in terms of the digital channels. We will emerge from this stronger."

The former Federal Minister Peer Steinbrück, who is leaving the supervisory board after ten years, will be replaced by the entrepreneur Judith Dommermuth – the second woman to join the nine-member committee after Silke Seidel. In a video message, the 44-year-old explained that her "love for BVB" had developed at a time when she lived in Westphalia.

The approval for the personally liable shareholder was almost unanimous (99.8%). The Annual General Meeting also passed a "resolution on the creation of authorised capital" with a 92.1% approval rate.
Boris Rupert

Click  here  to view the full voting results (last point)

 

The speech of Hans-Joachim Watzke (German Version)

 

The speech of Thomas Treß (German Version)