General Meeting

"As appealing as ever"

Borussia Dortmund's financial performance has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the club has reached new heights in sponsoring. For the current financial year, BVB expects "improved earnings but no turnaround just yet". This year's Annual General Meeting of Borussia Dortmund GmbH & Co. was again held in virtual form.

CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke focused in his report on Borussia Dortmund's strategic orientation in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, "which has had a massive impact for almost two years now and has meant that our business model is no longer fully functional." It has caused losses of EUR 43 million and EUR 72 million, respectively, in the past two financial years. Nevertheless, the club remains "as appealing as ever. We topped EUR 100 million for the first time in sponsoring and are on course to hit EUR 125 million in the current financial year." Watzke announced new investments in digital infrastructure.

Turning to the actions currently being discussed between regional leaders and the federal government to contain the pandemic, he added: "We accept the supremacy of the government. The Bundesliga is ready to compromise and is aware of its responsibility." Reduced spectator numbers had to be accepted as a fact of life, including as an "example to the public". The league was not spreading the virus, however, either on the terraces or in travelling to matches – particularly given that there are tens of thousands of parking spaces available in Dortmund. He called for moderation and "not to let populism" take hold.

"Sustainability" remained at the forefront of business thinking. "We aim to be carbon neutral going forward", announced Watzke, and rejected criticism of the decision not to furlough staff during the pandemic: "Borussia Dortmund is a way of life, not a race to make quick profits. We can all count on one other here."

On the pitch, the club remained "not just set on winning titles but also capable of pulling it off," Watzke added. However, the trick remained to not be driven by expectations. "Economic irresponsibility marks the point where our ambition starts to diverge from what we want to achieve on the pitch."

Winning the DFB Cup in the summer of 2021 was the club's fifth major accomplishment after 2011 (Bundesliga champions), 2012 (domestic double) and 2017 (DFB Cup winners). In the current Bundesliga season, the club has chalked up "30 points in 13 matches, despite major injury worries. That is an exceptional achievement", as was winning 17 of the past 20 Bundesliga matches. Watzke's "great disappointment" was the club's early departure from the lucrative UEFA Champions League. "But we have now managed to channel our frustration into positive energy." Watzke called on the team and coach to "get as far as possible in the Europa League. That's the one title we haven't yet brought home to Dortmund. We shouldn't bemoan the fact that we lost EUR 13 million, we should seek to reclaim that money." According to managing director Thomas Treß, advancing to the final alone would be worth roughly EUR 17 million.

In his report, Treß referred to the earnings development presented at the Annual Press Conference on 9 August 2021 and went through the figures in detail. On an interesting note, the additional medical expenses for COVID-19 measures totalled EUR 2.1 million. As at 30 June 2021, Borussia Dortmund GmbH & Co. Kommanditgesellschaft auf Aktien had reported financial liabilities of EUR 56.9 million. These were reduced to zero thanks to the capital increase. Thomas Treß: "We have used authorised capital to make Borussia Dortmund more resilient and repair the damage caused by the pandemic." Turning to the subsequent agenda item Resolution on the creation of new authorised capital, he commented: "This is one of the tools used by listed companies to strengthen their equity should the need arise." For the current financial year, Treß expects "improved earnings but no turnaround just yet".

In the open discussion that followed, CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke and managing directors Thomas Treß and Carsten Cramer answered 130 questions from shareholders and their proxies. As in the previous year, the meeting was chaired by Christian Kullmann, who this year was elected Chairman of the Supervisory Board. Kullmann expressed his sincere thanks for his predecessor's "great personal commitment". Gerd Pieper left the Supervisory Board in September for health reasons. "We wish Gerd nothing but the best," said Kullmann.

Dr Bernhard Pellens, Professor of International Corporate Accounting and Academic Director of the Institute of Management (ifu) at Ruhr University Bochum, was elected to the Supervisory Board with 86% of the vote. "As a man of numbers, I can't help BVB in an athletic sense. But the wide range of activities I am involved in and my many years of practical experience mean I can help the club comply with the ever more stringent requirements placed on corporate governance."

The other motions – including presentation of the annual financial statements – were adopted with more than 99% of the votes cast. The resolution on "authorised capital" passed with 95.6%.
Boris Rupert

The speech of Hans-Joachim Watzke (German Version)

The speech of Thomas Treß (German Version)