Colourful financier set to help revive O’Reilly ambitions
Vincent Ryan Published: 25 January 2015 Comment (0) Print LARS WINDHORST has been bankrupt twice and was once convicted for breach of trust. He is now poised to help revive the fortunes of Providence Resources, Tony O’Reilly Jr’s offshore exploration company.
Windhorst is chairman of Sapinda, a London-based investment company. One of its subsidiaries, Sequa, is finalising a $300m (€267m) bond issuance, due to be completed by the end of next week.
Part of the proceeds are expected to be used to purchase a stake in Providence’s Barryroe oilfield.
Windhorst is one of Germany’s best-known entrepreneurs. He was 14 when he founded an electronics company importing components from China. Two years later it had revenues of $50m.
At 16, he dropped out of school and became a protege of the then German chancellor Helmut Kohl, travelling the world and meeting international businessmen.
Now aged 38, Windhorst has experienced a rollercoaster ride and fallen out of favour in his country. With two bankruptcies behind him, Windhorst has moved to London and become a big player in the shadow banking world.
He is reported to sleep just four hours a night and to spend 12 hours of each weekend on administration. Rumour has it that his way of combating tiredness is through doing push-ups and headstands.
His energy has not always managed to keep his companies afloat. Windhorst was badly burnt by the Asian financial crisis in 1997. He borrowed money to invest in tech company flotations to try to make quick returns to cover a black hole in the balance sheet of his publicly listed company, Windhorst AG. When the dotcom bubble burst, and when the markets crashed following 9/11, Windhurst was forced into bankruptcy. Creditors had claims in total of €80m against him.
Apart from borrowing money from his parents, he also tapped investors. Rob Hersov, a South African entrepreneur, introduced to Windhorst by actor Michael Douglas, gave him €5m to get back into business in 2004.
Sapinda Group was founded and, by the end of 2007, the company had funds of €1bn. That same year Windhorst was involved in a plane crash in Kazakhstan. One of the two pilots died and Windhorst lost an ear. A few days later, with his ear and several of his teeth missing following the crash, Windhorst was back at work in his office.
In the wake of the financial crisis, Sapinda Group was forced to restructure.
Dr Peter Wiesing, chief executive of Global Arbitrage Group, a high-frequency trader, became the sole shareholder in Sapinda through a Dutch company called Herm Holding BV. Sapinda is pitched as an alternative provider of capital to plug the gap for companies that need to raise between $20m and $150m.
If Sequa steps into the breach at Providence, it will be plugging a gap in the explorer’s ambitions.
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