The Munich public prosecutor’s office is investigating insolvency proceedings at Byton GmbH at the Bavaria office. The company denies media reports that ex-CEO Daniel Kirchert has fled to Hong Kong to escape the investigations.
Initially, the portal BusinessInsider and German publication Bild had reported the events. As a spokesman for Byton GmbH confirmed to electrive, employees in Ismaning, Germany, have not been paid for months. “The company management in China has failed to initiate contractually promised payments,” the spokesperson said. “It is currently unclear what the future holds for Byton in Germany.”
Reports of Byton’s difficult economic situation have been recurring. In April, Byton had furloughed half of its US staff, and later the company had announced that it would cease operations for six months on 1 July 2020. In early January this year, it was revealed that Byton had admittedly reached an agreement with Foxconn for a $200 million investment and joint production of the M-Byte starting in 2022.
Reports now state that Byton GmbH’s building in Ismaning has been vacant “for months” – not only because employees are at home offices, but because the lease had been terminated. The managing director of Byton GmbH was Daniel Kirchert, who was also CEO of the entire company. However, the ex-BMW manager already left the company in July.
Reports that Kirchert had “absconded” to Hong Kong with his family because of an arrest warrant issued by the Munich public prosecutor’s office are denied by the spokesperson: “Daniel Kirchert has been living with his family in Hong Kong for years, and he has also been staying there since his termination in July 2020.”
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One problem is that since Kirchert’s position as managing director in Germany was never filled by Byton, there was also no longer anyone responsible in this country who could have applied for short-time working benefits, or filed for insolvency. “The status of Byton GmbH is currently being reviewed, as in fact its employees have not been paid salaries for some time,” the spokesperson said.
Company circles suggest that possible insolvency of Byton GmbH had already been an issue much earlier in 2020. Kirchert had also been in favour of the step to be able to restructure the company. But since those responsible in China are said to have rejected this step, Kirchert had no choice but to resign himself, to get out of liability. The public prosecutor’s office will now investigate when Byton GmbH actually became insolvent.
However, if the restart in China with Foxconn and other investors’ help actually succeeds, it is not yet clear whether and how Byton will be active in Europe. “For the Byton brand in Europe, the crisis is of course not particularly beneficial,” the spokesperson said.
With reporting by Sebastian Schaal, Germany.
businessinsider.de (in German)
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