Germany Bans New Wirecard Short Sales in Unprecedented Move
Comment of the Day

February 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Germany Bans New Wirecard Short Sales in Unprecedented Move

This article by Nicholas Comfort and Karin Matussek for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Germany’s financial regulator took the unprecedented step of temporarily banning short sales of Wirecard AG shares following reports of suspicious accounting practices, while prosecutors in Munich expanded their investigation to include a Financial Times journalist.

Investors globally are immediately prohibited from taking new short positions or increasing existing ones through April 18, according to watchdog BaFin. That’s the first time it has banned short-selling on a single stock and harks back to the financial crisis, when the regulator prohibited naked short sales on 11 financial firms.

The short-selling ban was coordinated with Munich prosecutors, who have already launched a probe over potential market manipulation in Wirecard shares. In a statement Monday, the prosecutor said it was investigating a complaint by an investor against an FT journalist.

Eoin Treacy's view

Wirecard was the best performing company on the DAX last year and is one of Europe’s only technology success stories. Its fall from grace has been particularly swift but the move to ban shorting on an individual share is disingenuous. Rather than protect the perception of the German economy it is going to raise questions among foreign investors about their ability to express a view through investing in the region generally. 

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