German supplier Grammer faces watchdog probe amid power struggle

FRANKFURT -- German financial watchdog Bafin will launch a routine investigation into market manipulation allegations against Grammer.

Grammer's biggest shareholder, Bosnia's Hastor family, on Thursday accused the company of artificially depressing its own share price to allow a rival investor, China's Ningbo Jifeng, to build a stake.

"As is routine, we will look at that in terms of possible market manipulation," a Bafin spokeswoman said on Friday when asked about the Hastor allegations.

A Nuremberg court separately said on Friday it had lifted a temporary injunction on the exercise of a convertible bond, allowing Grammer to issue shares to Ningbo Jifeng.

Grammer management brought Ningbo Jifeng on board as a "white knight" against the Hastor family, which owns a stake of at least 20 percent in Grammer and has criticized Grammer's management.

Grammer counts Germany's big automakers among its major clients, with Volkswagen alone accounting for 35 percent of sales at its automotive business.

Automakers have grown concerned about attempts by the Hastor family to expand their influence over Grammer. A dispute between two other companies controlled by the family and Volkswagen Group escalated last year, resulting in stoppages of VW's Golf assembly line.

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Tags: Grammer

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