Report: Germany pressures JC Flowers to sell Hypo stake

The German government is reportedly taking legislative action which could force a consortium led by US firm JC Flowers to sell its 24% stake in stricken Germany-based commercial real estate lender, Hypo Real Estate.

Berlin has waved through a draft law paving the way for Hypo Real Estate to be nationalised, in turn triggering the forced sale of a minority stake held by JC Flowers, Grove International and Japan’s Shinsei bank. The law could be approved on 3 April.

According to the Financial Times, Peer Steinbruck, Germany’s finance minister, said that Berlin could “ very quickly call in a shareholders’ meeting” to give investors a last chance to voluntarily cede control. He said the use of government powers depends solely on the shareholders’ behaviour at the meeting.

The consortium led by Flowers took a €1 billion stake in Hypo in 2008. Since then, Hypo has received tens of billions of euros of bail-out money to stave off total collapse.

Its troubles stem from its failure to meet repayments of debt taken on for the 2007 acquisition of the Dublin-based infrastructure and public projects lender Depfa Bank for €5.7 billion. Last October, Hypo was forced to approach the German government for a €35 billion lifeline to cover its short term cash position and has received subsequent payments topping €100 billion.